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Good, Succinct Bio of England’s Most Fascinating, Magickal Asshole

The best con man is the one who believes his own con.

The best con man is the one who believes his own con.

Alesteir Crowley:  Magick, Rock And Roll, And The Wickedest Man In The World, Gary Lachman, 346 pp., Jeremy P. Tarcher/ Penguin Books.

Like many young boomers, I must most reluctantly confess that the occult fascinated me. Of course, poking around with mumbo-jumbo the dark arts inevitably leads to Aleister Crowley, black magician, accomplished yogi (the first Westerner to attain this), early mountaineer, and the so-called “wickedest man in the world.” My interest went far enough to try to read his novel, Diary Of A Drug Fiend, at 17 with high hopes of being enthralled by lurid tales of drug fueled sex and magic orgies, only to find it completely unreadable.  Some years later, a friend of mine bought a copy of his autobiography at a yard sale for a dollar and gave it to me. Also basically unreadable, probably due in no small part to Crowley actually being on drugs when he wrote this stuff.

Fascination with the Great Beast has continued through his own lifetime into the present day. Crowley’s own works on magick remain in print and videos discussing his theories and practices are pitched to credulous boobs seekers of hidden knowledge throughout the Internet. Numerous writers have used Crowley as a model for sinister black magicians or charlatans in various novels, to include Somerset Maugham. There are also a fair number of biographies written about His Magic Grossness. Gary Lachman’s telling of Crowley’s lifetime career of crap artistry necromancy is objective, balanced, and supported by documentary evidence. The author is well qualified to write on Crowley due to his lifelong interest in the occult, an understanding of the subject that has matured and deepened over time so that Lachman can discuss his subject rationally while at the same time grasping the bases and ramifications that underlay Crowley’s magick. He also doesn’t resort to sensationalism, a hard tendency to resist when dealing with someone like Crowley, one other biographers have readily yielded to. The understatement makes his portrait of Crowley all the more damning.

Crowley was a spoiled, upper class, English twit, although one with a decidedly peculiar background, from a family of Plymouth Brethren, an incredibly austere and hermetically sealed sect of Protestant dissenters. Stifled by repression while simultaneously cosseted (an only child, he was privately tutored  and never learned to get along with others, much less to consider their needs), he was driven by his rebellious nature to act up as much as possible as soon as he could, at college with whores, alcohol, and general debauchery.  His interest in the occult was strong from early adulthood and he soon became a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, a mystical society whose members included the great Irish poet, W.B. Yeats, and the Victorian actress, Florence Farr. It’s interesting that, in his lifetime, Crowley met many notable and interesting personalities of his day, but came away completely uninfluenced by them. Instead, like the narcissist that he was, he recklessly plunged on ahead, pissing his inheritance away on high living, world travel, and occult speculation. He was also a complete heel, a manipulative user of both men and women who left a trail of scandals, suicides, and ruined lives.  Crowley burned through friends like he burned through money. Ones with enough sense simply got away from him, like Allan Bennett, who moved to Burma, now present day Myanmar, to become a Buddhist monk. Once he exhausted his own money, Crowley had to spunge off others and was constantly on the prowl for new suckers devotees he could fleece for donations. Among other people he conned was the mother of Preston Sturges, the film director. Eventually, sick and old, with all his bridges burned, Crowley died in a lodging house for crackpots, taken in basically out of charity, an officially registered heroin addict with the British government. You would think that a master of the black arts could do better in life.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in the occult or to someone who would just enjoy a good read about a really godawful man.

https://www.amazon.com/Aleister-Crowley-Magick-Wickedest-World-ebook/dp/B00DGZKHN6/ref=sr_1_3?crid=5JLEJVQBGIQR&keywords=aleister+crowley&qid=1551978604&s=gateway&sprefix=alesteir+%2Caps%2C139&sr=8-3

My own effort at portrayal.

My own effort at portrayal.

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