He was a magician, an occultist, and a vagabond. At one point, Aleister Crowley either struck fear or admiration into people all around the world. Even his own mother called him the antichrist. This revolutionary thinker started his own religion based around rather frightening rites. His lifestyle inspired celebrities and rockstars for decades. Some may even credit the modern lifestyle to the rebellious attitudes of Crowley. Whether such a conclusion is baseless or not it is quite clear that Aleister Crowley lived a remarkably terrifying lifestyle. This is the story of how a young Christian boy divulged into an identity that earned him the title of the Beast.
How to Raise an Occultist
Aleister Crowley was born in Warwickshire, England in October of 1875 to a family of devout Christians. His father, an engineer by trade, was the beneficiary of a successful family business. The family business was a brewery and as a faithful Christian Crowley’s father refused to profit off drunkenness. Aleister’s father instead became a preacher and raised young Crowley in solitude, teaching him to avoid all sin. For many years this lifestyle was perfectly acceptable to Aleister. When his father died of tongue cancer Aleister’s life changed forever.
Crowleys mother sent him to live with his uncle in an effort to help him rebound from illness and the immense despair. Crowley’s uncle did not share in the same faith as his parents. The wealth that he had gained from the family business had afforded him a lavish lifestyle and he reveled in it. Crowley’s uncle believed that Aleister should enjoy all the trappings a young boy deserved. So, he allowed him to play outside with other children for the first time in his life. Crowley’s uncle also introduced him to some more taboo activities such as underage drinking.
A Change of Heart
Crowley’s father’s untimely death shook his faith to the core. Furthermore, his experiences of a ‘sinful life’ while staying with his uncle lead Aleister to abandon Christianity entirely. Upon returning home he immediately began to struggle in school and in his relationship with his mother. All of these struggles culminated in his eventual move away from home to study Philosophy at Cambridge University.
Infiltrating Groups to Gain Influence
During his college years, Aleister Crowley developed a keen ability to work his way into just about any group. Not only could he gain a seat at the table, but he found that he could manipulate himself to the head of the table of just about any group he wanted. While not much came of this new school in his college years, this skill would turn out to be one of the most valuable skills he developed while studying at the prestigious university.
The Golden Dawn
Shortly after he finished college, Crowley discovered the secret society known as The Golden Dawn. He was fascinated by their occult practices and wanted to become a part of the group. For some strange reason, he chose to wear a disguise and use a fake accent during his first meeting with the secret society. No one was fooled by the disguise which it did not start him off on the right foot with the group.
It is this event, along with a few other details, that lead many to theorize that Aleister Crowley was really a spy who was sent to infiltrate such secretive groups. Regardless of their distrust in him, the Golden Dawn allowed Crowley to become a member. He used the skills he developed during college to work his way to the top of the group and gain a seat at the right hand of the cult leader.
An Inheritance is Meant to be Blown
Ok, it wasn’t just Aleister’s manipulative prowess that afforded him seats of power. It was his wallet, or more appropriately, his inheritance. Remember that fortune that Crowley’s father had amassed but never touched? Upon his father’s death, Crowley became the sole beneficiary of untold riches. His new religious beliefs freed him from any inhibitions and his new pocketbook afforded him whatever lifestyle he desired. Aleister Crowley lived a rockstar lifestyle that would make even Ozzy Osbourne blush. He also used this money to work his way into positions of power. That is exactly what he did with the Golden Dawn. That is exactly how the Golden Dawn collapsed. Crowley was still able to distill much of the teachings into his own set of ideas that he had been developing for a new system he called Thelema.
Aleister Crowley’s Legacy | Thelema
Over the course of the next several years, Crowley traveled the world studying cults and ancient religions. He traveled with monks, meditated in the Himalayas, and dug up hidden treasures in Egypt. These experiences began to shape a religious belief system that he would title Thelema. He believed that he was an ordained prophet of the Egyptian god Horus. He was given a mission to bring about the age of Horus. The new era was to be an era ruled by free will and personal choice. His new movement slowly began to grow in followers and by the end of his life, a budding religion had been born.
Aleister Crowley’s lifestyle was the stereotypical live fast-die young lifestyle. He did, however, live a long and rather successful life despite his self-destructive behavior. His religion, Thelema, has few followers today. Yet, it is not a total failure as much of the ideals of the faith have permeated their way into western culture today. His ideas that all humans should be free to live however they would like with no fear of divine judgment or consequence seems remarkably similar to the way many secularists behave in the modern era. In fact, many celebrities during the ’60s, 70’s, and ’80s cite Crowley as a major influence. Crowley renounced much of his teachings at the end of his life and stated that family is what was really most important all along.
The Crowley story is intense, dark, and strangely intriguing. In this episode of Things I Learned Last Night Jaron Myers and Tim Stone discuss this occultist in detail. You won’t believe some of the things that he did during his lifetime. Give it a watch or listen and let us know what you think by sharing this episode and tagging us in your post. Things I Learned Last Night is an educational comedy podcast where best friends Jaron Myers and Tim Stone talk about random topics and have fun all along the way. If you like learning, and laughing a whole lot while you do, then you’ll love TILLN. Watch or listen to this episode today!
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