Pagan Who’s who 12: Aleister Crowley: “Do what thou wilt”

The Pagan Who’s who series contains information about current and recent notaries which have contributed to, or influenced the modern pagan scene.  Some names you may know already, some you may not, but all these people are dedicated and hard-working in their own particular specialised fields.  For pagan, spiritual, occult or faith matters who from the last generation influences and inspires you?

Aleister Crowley was a British occultist, writer philosopher and mystic best known for his work The Book of Law (1904).  He was also a chess player, a mountain climber, poet, painter, astrologer, hedonist, drug experimenter and social critic.

Aleister Crowley (1845-1947) was called the “Wickedest man in the world” in the popular press of his day, he was a highly prolific writer, who published works on a wide variety of topics, including his philosophy of Thelema, mysticism, ceremonial magic, as well as non-occult topics like politics, philosophy and culture. Widely seen as his most important work was The Book of the Law (1904), the central text of the philosophy of Thelema, although he claimed that he himself was not its writer, but merely a scrible for an angelic being. This was just one of many books that he believed that he had channelled from a spiritual being, which collectively came to be termed The Holy Books of Thelema.

He also wrote books on ceremonial magick, namely Magick (Book 4) (1912), The Vision and the Voice and 777 and other Qabalistic writings, and edited a copy of the grimoire known as The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon the King. Another of his important works was a book on mysticism, The Book of Lies (1912), while another was a collection of different essays entitled Little Essays Toward Truth (1938). He also penned an autobiography, entitled The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (1929). He wrote poetry, including the Hymn to Pan (1929) however The Oxford Companion to English Literature entry on him describes him as a “bad but prolific poet”.

His influence looms large on the modern pagan scene, and his legacy includes a collection of photographs at the University of Texas, an online library of his works, and even a place on the cover of the Beatles St Pepper album cover, next to Mae West.


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