Grace Cavanaugh ~ Co-Editor in Chief
Continuing on my path of Pagan exploration, I want to talk about Aleister Crowley this week. For fans of Supernatural, Crowley should sound familiar as the King of Hell for a few seasons. For fans of the spooky, Crowley has another, not-so-different meaning.
According to Britannica, Edward Alexander Crowley was born on Oct. 12, 1875, in England. His father was an evangelist, and they do not mention his mother, which I think is highly rude of them, but I digress.
Crowley was a student of the University of Cambridge and changed his name to Aleister. He also, apparently, was rather good at chess. He dropped out of university in 1898 to travel, (which I think a lot of people can relate to), published a book of poetry, and joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
He was also an avid hiker, and climbed K2 and attempted to climb Kachenjunga, but failed to after an avalanche killed four of his fellow climbers. It is rumored that Crowley refused to help them, despite being near enough to do so.
Crowley then started a religion, as you do, called Thelema. He moved to Sicily and turned his house into the Abbey of Thelema. However, after the questionable death of one of his friends, Crowley was kicked out of Italy in 1923, and he moved back to England.
The Thoth Tarot deck is credited to Crowley after he wrote The Book of Thoth, published in 1944, and collaborated with Frieda Harris to design the deck. Crowley died in 1947 “impoverished, disgraced, and a near-skeletal heroin addict,” according to nationaltrust.org. He died in Hastings, England, and his funeral was attended by “a dozen or so of his closest associates and followers,” according to british-paranormal.co.uk. He was then cremated and sent to the United States, where he was buried in someone’s backyard in New Hampshire.
Although he was rather infamous while alive, his fame, naturally, only grew after his death. One thing Crowley is infamous for is an English news article that called him the “wickedest man in the world.” His fame grew in the 1960’s when he appeared on the cover of a Beatles’ album. Ozzy Osbourne has a song titled ‘Mr. Crowley’. There are still Thelemites wandering around over the earth who read his books and use his Tarot deck.
Perhaps it is because I grew up Baptist, but for someone called the Great Beast 666, I find it hard to believe that he lived such a mundane life. Or, rather, as mundane as all this research seems. I am sure there are lots of nasty skeletons in his closet that I have not delved into, or cannot because I am writing for a newspaper.
Regardless, somehow I was expecting more.