Weiser Antiquarian Catalog #93

Weiser Antiquarian Catalog 93

Weiser Antiquarian Catalog #93 is now available, featuring works by and about Aleister Crowley

Be sure to have a look at Weiser Antiquarian’s new catalog #93, featuring books by and about Aleister Crowley, at: http://weiserantiquarian.com/catalog

About this new catalog, Weiser writes:

Weiser Antiquarian Books is pleased to announce the release of the ninety-third of our on-line catalogues. Being number 93 it really had to be an Aleister Crowley catalogue, and a rather special one at that. For the most part the catalogue contains material from the collection of our longtime friend and customer, the late Nicholas Bishop-Culpeper (1942-2011), although it also includes works from several other collections, including those of Helen Parsons Smith, Wilfred Talbot Smith and others.

The books in the first section are all from the Bishop-Culpeper collection, and without doubt comprise the most comprehensive collection of biographical and autobiographical works pertaining to Crowley ever to be offered in one place. What makes them particularly special is that many of the books are signed, inscribed, or include letters from the author(s) or other related ephemera. Of particular importance is a proof copy of the 1969 Symonds and Grant edition of Crowley’s Confessions, that is inscribed by John Symond’s and with his manuscript corrections, and accompanied by a large and significant archive of related letters. The books in the second section are also all from the Bishop-Culpeper collection, and are mainly literary and other memoirs, all of which contain some reference to Aleister Crowley. The mainly first-person accounts in these works provided valuable source materials for many of the biographies in the first section, and some of them are quite rare, and took Nick many years to track down.

The third section of the catalogue is devoted to Crowley rarities, and comprises a mixed collection of books and ephemera. The most outstanding item would have to be a complete original typescript of Liber LXXI, …that is Crowley’s rendition of Mme. Blavatsky’s The Voice of the Silence and Commentary, with numerous manuscript corrections and insertions in Crowley’s handwriting. Other fascinating ephemeral items include a prospectus for The Equinox of the Gods with a few holograph annotations by Crowley, a receipt in Crowley’s handwriting for a copy of the rare Bagh-i-Muattar which he borrowed in the hope of republishing it, and a manuscript address list, in which Crowley has written the names and address of over 60 friends and acquaintances – including his own. Rare books in this section include a superb, signed and numbered copy of the white buckram edition of Konx om Pax; a scarce review issue of the black-bound issue of the same work; the hand-made paper edition, limited to 50 numbered copies, of The Winged Beetle; and a presentation copy of Crowley’s The High History of Good Sir Palamedes inscribed by C. Stansfeld Jones to Wilfred Talbot Smith. Also of great rarity are the Helen Parsons Smith reissue of the Karl Germer edition of The Vision and the Voice and a first edition, with original prospectus and errata sheet loosely inserted, of the Germer edtion of Magick Without Tears. The final selection contains some Crowley Curiosities, books that are in one way or another related to Aleister Crowley, although their relevance is not always obvious at first glance.

As often there are too many interesting items to detail in a short overview like this, but there are some genuinely important and unusual pieces throughout the catalogue, and we recommend that those interested scrutinise it carefully.


Grimoire of Aleister Crowley : £31

Abrahadabra Press announces their first publication

Grimoire of Aleister Crowley by Rodney Orpheus

320 pages, octavo hardcover with dust jacket
ISBN: 978-0-9569853-0-9

Grimoire of Aleister Crowley by Rodney Orpheus

Grimoire of Aleister Crowley by Rodney Orpheus : £31

This book contains rituals written by Crowley for his own magic circles, many of them unpublished during his lifetime; plus rare ancient texts that were Crowley’s own inspiration in turn.

The rituals are newly edited and explained by Rodney Orpheus.

Available for purchase directly from the publisher. Click here to order.



“..there are presently very few individuals living today who are qualified by education and experience to do [this], and even fewer with the writing talent and communication skills to bring it all to life on the printed page. Brother Orpheus is the incarnation of both these aspects of genius. Whether he is expanding upon classic Crowley rituals or creating and developing his own Thelemic ceremonies, the magician reader can be confident he or she is in good hands.”

– Lon Milo DuQuette, author of The Magick of Aleister Crowley, Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, etc.

“Rodney Orpheus, the modern Minstrel of Thelema, is back with another vibrant, creative, and irreverent effort that is sure to please and enlighten as it broadcasts the good news that the Lord of the Aeon is alive and well. This is a practical, lively, and meticulously documented manual designed for group magical workings. It admirably fulfils its task—bringing new insight to both published and unpublished rituals with diagrams and detailed instructions for movement, apparel, and Temple setup. It includes rituals from Crowley and others, and its important appendices round out an excellent work.”

– James Wasserman, author of To Perfect This Feast: A Performance Commentary on the Gnostic Mass, etc.

“In addition to gifting us with a long-needed anthology of Aleister Crowley’s group rituals, Rodney Orpheus’ “Grimoire,” with its inclusion of rituals inspired by Crowley, is also a course on how to take older texts and adapt them to one’s needs.  The cookbook-style “list of ingredients and preparation time” that precedes each ceremony handily gives aspiring ritualists a heads up on how many Fratres or Sorores are needed, how much memorization is required, and how complex the ritual equipment and staging is.  Eminently readable and (most importantly) usableGrimoire of Aleister Crowley will keep many a magical group busy for years to come.”

– Richard Kaczynski, author of Perdurabo

“With this book, Rodney Orpheus has produced the most significant Thelemic book written this century. Grimoire of Aleister Crowley adds a key missing fragment to the corpus of Crowley’s Thelemic rituals – a coherent set of group rituals which enhance personal practices and expand effective magical interaction between practitioners. Drawing on unpublished Crowley material, the author has vitalised the rituals with the spirit of Thelemic practice, rather than slavishly following standard formulae. This book is going to end up being standard reading for numerous groups,and is sure to cause a stir, and may even start a revolution.”

– David Rankine, author of The Goetia of Dr. Rudd, The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, etc.

“This book is all purple and pleasure, a revelation of fragments of rituals by Aleister Crowley which were half concealed, expounding the mantras and the spells and propagating the essence of Thelema. Rodney Orpheus has provided an original and enchanting work for the twenty-first century which opens the gates to the palace and offers a pathway to the mysteries hidden therein. The Grimoire of Aleister Crowley is sure to become a modern classic.”

-Sorita D’Este, author of Practical Qabalah Magick & Hekate Liminal Rites

“Rodney Orpheus has here provided a wide-ranging introduction to liturgical science for 21st-century magicians, as well as collecting valuable traditional and original materials for the purposes of consummating group operations of magick. Grimoire of Aleister Crowleyhighlights the aims and innovations of the Great Beast in the field of group ceremony, and includes rituals by Crowley never previously available in book form. It should be valuable to Thelemites both within and outside of formal initiatory societies, and to students of the occult in general.”
– T Polyphilus, Ep. Gn.


Grimoire of Aleister Crowley


  • Introduction by Lon Milo DuQuette
  • Preface
  • A Note on Safety
  • The Ritual of the Mark of the Beast
  • The Invocation of Horus
  • Invocation of the Holy Spirit
  • A Ritual to Invoke HICE
  • A Rite of Isis
  • Roots of Thelema I – A Mithraic Liturgy
  • Roots of Thelema II – The Bacchanal
  • Roots of Thelema III – Goetia
  • The Brazen Head
  • An Evocation of Bartzabel the Spirit of Mars
  • The Supreme Ritual
  • The Ritual Of Consecration Of An High Priest Of L.I.L.
  • The Ritual Of Initiation of a Thelemite
  • Breaking of Bread
  • The Mass of Babalon


  • Rituals from Liber O
  • The 72 Spirits of the Goetia
  • Three Holy Books
  • Ritual J
  • Cakes of Light


Available for purchase directly from the publisher. Click here to order.

New Edition: White Stains

Aleister Crowley’s “White Stains”

An entirely new edition, illustrated by Fredrik Söderberg. Printed in four colours, hardbound with dustjacket.

UPDATE! Now available for pre-order; find your regional dealer at www.edda.se

Release evening: Wednesday, September 7 · 5:00pm – 8:00pm, at:

Milliken Gallery
Luntmakargatan 78,
113 51 Stockholm

“English poet-magician Aleister Crowley published White Stains in 1898, an era of intense creativity for the budding magus-to-be. The original edition of a mere 100 copies was printed in Amsterdam with the help of Leonard Smithers (publisher of Beardsley, Wilde, Burton et al). Part of the edition was later ‘appropriated’ and destroyed by English Customs officers, due to the erotic nature of the poems. In a Victorian Zeitgeist that found Oscar Wilde intensely shocking, Aleister Crowley of course took everything one step further. The virile sexual force stemming from Crowley’s pen is but one of his trademark traits here. In this early collection, we also find examples of his remarkable wit, a thorough understanding of psycho-sexual dynamics, bombastic expressions of lyrical love, as well as his beloved Swinburnean structures of classical poetry. White Stains really is Crowley at his youthful best.”

Edited and with an introduction by William Breeze. This edition contains six stunning watercolour paintings by Fredrik Söderberg, reproduced in full colour.

Edda Bok, 2011. Hardbound book with dustjacket, 128 pages, 11 x 18 cm. Limited edition of 418 numbered copies.

A limited art edition of the book will also be available for purchase at Milliken Gallery on the night of the release: 43 copies in slipcase, with a screenprint by Söderberg.

Release date: September 7, 2011.

Click here to RSVP to the Facebook event.

Miscellaneous Crowley Books for sale

Magical Record of the Beast 666

Magical Record of the Beast 666 (1972; Next Step Publishing; hardcover; some wear to dust jacket) : Edited by John Symonds and Kenneth Grant : $160

A collection of books by and about Aleister Crowley, and some others, are being sold on Facebook : http://on.fb.me/rhfstm

Below is a list of those available by and about Aleister Crowley. Contact Facebook user Martti Hill for more information.

Alexandra (Hardcover; Mandrake Press) – Aleister Crowley : $45

Magical Record of the Beast 666 (1972; Next Step Publishing; Hardcover; Some wear to Dustjacket) – Edited by John Symonds and Kenneth Grant : $160

Holy Books of Thelema (Hardcover; Previous owner’s sigils) – Aleister Crowley : $100

777 (Hardcover; 1982) – Aleister Crowley : $50

Vision and the Voice with Commentary (Hardcover) – Aleister Crowley : $160

Commentaries on the Holy Books (Hardcover) – Aleister Crowley : $150

Crowley on Christ (Hardcover; some marks by previous owner in first few pages) – Francis King/Aleister Crowley : $150

Book of Thoth (Hardcover; Kashmarin Press edition of 2000 this one left unnumbered) – Aleister Crowley : $140

Aleister Crowley The Black Magician – C.R. Cammell : $10

Clouds without Water – Aleister Crowley : $10

Confessions 1 (German version) – Aleister Crowley : $40

Liber Aleph (Aeon Press) – Aleister Crowley : $25

Liber Aleph (oversized; Level Press 1972) – Aleister Crowley : $40

Simon Iff: The Artistic Temperament (Black Moon Publishing Booklet) – Aleister Crowley : $15

Genesis of the Book of the Law Part 1 (Holmes Publishing Booklet; Seems to be very rare) – David Allen Hulse : $50

Genesis of the Book of the Law Part 2 (Holmes Publishing Booklet; Seems to be very rare) – David Allen Hulse : $50

Goetia (Hardcover; Magickal Childe; still has a Panurge sticker on the back cover from the early days of the Portland OTO scene) – Aleister Crowley : $80

More related books by other authors available in the original list here: http://on.fb.me/rhfstm

Aleister Crowley, The Golden Dawn, and Buddhism

Aleister Crowley, the Golden Dawn, and Buddhism: Writings of Gerald Yorke: Trade Edition

Trade Edition : $50

Aleister Crowley, The Golden Dawn and Buddhism: Reminiscences and Writings of Gerald Yorke : http://weiserantiquarian.com/Gerald_Yorke_Page/

Aleister Crowley, The Golden Dawn and Buddhism comprises a series of 20 essays by Gerald Joseph Yorke, set down over a thirty-year time-span. For four years, from 1928 onwards, Gerald Yorke was one of Aleister Crowley’s closest associates, studying with him, acting as his agent, working on his publications, and participating in his magical ceremonies. During that time he also investigated the path of the mystic through a series of “magical retirements” in the course of which he invoked his “Holy Guardian Angel” whilst tramping alone across the deserts of North Africa, and practiced yoga and meditation in the solitude of a cave on the Welsh coast. When he and Crowley fell out in 1932, Yorke set out for China, where he travelled, studied Buddhism, and worked as a Reuter’s correspondent for some three years. On his return to England he resumed contact with Crowley, but as a friend rather than a follower, and after Crowley’s death in 1947 Yorke was one of the handful of people who laboured to preserve the legacy of “The Beast.” In the process he assembled one of the most significant collections of Crowleyana and occult-related books and documents in the world and remained fascinated by the subject, even though on a personal level he had rejected the occult in favour of Buddhism. Immensely knowledgeable, he gave freely of his time and thought, and was instrumental in the publication of many of the most important works of his times on the occult, yoga and Buddhism.

Gerald Yorke’s interests are reflected in the essays and lectures which are published together here for the first time. Most of these pieces were groundbreaking: his short memoir of Crowley was the first sympathetic biographical piece of any length to be published after The Beast’s death, and his essay on Crowley’s O.T.O. and sexual occultism is the first clear account of the subject in the English language. His essays on ritual magic are unique in their matter-of-factness and sanity, and his writings on the Golden Dawn arguably mark the beginnings of historical research into that group. He also wrote knowledgeably on subjects such as Yoga, Tantra, Mantra and Zen at a time long before they had become common terms in the West.

Aleister Crowley, The Golden Dawn and Buddhism: the Writings of Gerald Yorke

Edition Deluxe : $250

Above all, Yorke’s essays offer a rare blend of straightforward scholarship and genuine first-hand experience. He had known Crowley as few others, and had learned directly from him the principals and practice of magic. Gerald Yorke sifted through a vast archive of then-unpublished Golden Dawn material, and was acquainted with a number of former associates of the Order; he had also studied and practiced yoga, meditation, and aspects of the tantras at a level unimaginable to most Western practitioners of his time. And he wrote on all of these topics with his characteristic wit and good humour.

The essays are accompanied by a biographical Introduction by Keith Richmond, a Reminiscence by Timothy d’Arch Smith, and a revised version of Yorke’s Crowley Bibliography by Clive Harper. The book concludes with a lengthy Interview with Gerald Yorke by David Tibet, undertaken shortly before Yorke’s death in 1983.

For complete information and online orders visit: http://weiserantiquarian.com/Gerald_Yorke_Page/

Crowley: Thoughts and Perspectives, Vol. 2 : £22-£25

Crowley Thoughts and Perspectives 2

Crowley: Thoughts and Perspectives vol. 2

CROWLEY: THOUGHTS & PERSPECTIVES, VOLUME TWO is now available to preorder. The book is over 200 pages in length and costs just £22 (UK), £24 (Europe) & £25 (America/Rest of World). All prices include postage and the Paypal address is: arktoslondon@yahoo.co.uk

Oft-maligned and endlessly portrayed as the archetypal epitome of evil incarnate, there is little doubt that Aleister Crowley systematically cultivated and embellished his characteristic notoriety and even today he still performs an inadvertently posthumous role as the perennial bête noire. This new book examines Crowley’s work in relation to Aiwass and Gnosticism, war and vengeance, Politics, Law and the Dionysian perspective, as well as discussing his mountaineering exploits, thoughts on self-mutilation and taking a more practical look at Thelemic magick itself. An illustrious roll-call of contributors includes David Beth, Troy Southgate, Dr. George J. Sieg, Vadge Moore, K.R. Bolton, Damon Zacharias, Keith Preston, Christopher Pankhurst, Hekate Perseia and Julius Evola.

Night of Pan Books

Night of Pan Books

Night of Pan Books

The Strangest Person I have Ever Known: Aleister Crowley by Hereward Carrington. Edited and annotated by Michael Kolson : $10 : http://bit.ly/jQDBZF

A wonderful first hand account of Aleister Crowley during his New York City period (1914-1919). In addition there is a rare first hand account of Crowley’s soon to be Scarlet Woman, Leah Hirsig.

Carrington was a prolific writer on occult and psychic studies and he here provides a wonderful and warm look at Crowley.

We’re pleased to feature this recent offering from Night of Pan Books, an occult bookseller with particular specialty in books by and about Aleister Crowley.

Also check out Night Of Pan’s other offerings, listed in their recent Catalog #36, where you’ll find a number of rare and hard-to-find editions of Aleister Crowley’s works, and even first editions. also included are new books by and about Aleister Crowley.

The Occult Review / London Forum 1922-1940 : $12K

Occult Review 1922-1940

The Occult Review / London Forum 1922-1940 : $12K

The Occult Review / The London Forum (from July 1922-1940, some missing items) : $12,000 : http://bit.ly/ihnhOC

Includes work by Aleister Crowley; Dion Fortune; Frater Achad; Israel Regardie; Arthur Edward Waite; Aldous Huxley; Ethel Archer; Edward Maitland; Florence Farr; J.F.C. Fuller; Michael Juste; Meredith Starr; Algernon Blackwood; W.B. Crow; William Kingsland; Annie Besant; Meher Baba; Alan W. Watts; Paul Brunton; Charles King; Lewis Spence; Leo French; Edith K. Harper; H. Stanley Redgrove; E.J. Langford Garstin; Sylvan J. Muldoon; Upton Sinclair.

Missing items are:

  • 1922 January, June
  • 1927 January, June
  • 1938 October
  • 1939 January

Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism Anthology coming soon

Pre-order is not yet available, but this is something to watch for:

Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism: An Anthology of Critical Studies

Edited by Henrik Bogdan. Published by Oxford University Press. Due in the Spring of 2012.

Contributors to include Henrik Bogdan, Martin P. Starr, Wouter Hanegraaff, Alex Owen, Marco Pasi, Richard Kaczynski, Gordan Djurdjevic, Tobias Churton, Matthew D. Rogers, R. A. Gilbert, Massimo Introvigne, Ronald Hutton, Keith Richmond, Hugh Urban and Asbjørn Dyrendal.

New Crowley Biography : Pre-order : $20

Aleister Crowley: The Biography: Spiritual Revolutionary, Romantic Explorer, Occult Master and Spy, by Tobias Churton

Aleister Crowley: The Biography: Spiritual Revolutionary, Romantic Explorer, Occult Master and Spy : $20

Aleister Crowley: The Biography: Spiritual Revolutionary, Romantic Explorer, Occult Master and Spy

by Tobias Churton

Pre-order : $20 : http://amzn.to/egItpL

This definitive biography of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the most notorious and controversial spiritual figure of the 20th century, brings together a life of world-shaking ‘magick’, sexual and psychological experimentation at the outer limits, world-record-beating mountaineering and startling prophetic power – as well as poetry, adventure, espionage, wisdom, excess, and intellectual brilliance. The book reveals the man behind the appalling reputation, demolishing a century of scandalmongering that persuaded the world that Crowley was a black magician, a traitor and a sexual wastrel, addicted to drugs and antisocial posing, rather than the mind-blowing truth that Crowley was a genius as significant as Jung, Freud or Einstein. Churton has enjoyed the full co-operation of the world’s Crowley scholars to ensure the accuracy and plausibility of his riveting narrative. The author has also been in contact with Crowley’s grandson, who has vouchsafed rare, previously untold accounts of family relationships. The result is an intimate portrait that has never before been shown, and one that has great emotional impact. The book contains the first ever complete investigation of Crowley’s astonishing family background – including facts he concealed in his lifetime for fear of social prejudice. Tobias Churton also gives us a detailed account of Crowley’s work as a British spy during World War I in Berlin during the early 1930s and during World War II. This information has not been available to any previous biographer.

Tobias Churton is a world authority on Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism and Gnosticism. Holding a Master’s degree in Theology from Brasenose College, Oxford, he is an Honorary Fellow of Exeter University and Faculty Lecturer in Western Esotericism. An accomplished filmmaker and composer and the writer of the award-winning drama documentary series The Gnostics, for Channel 4, Dr Churton has also written a now standard biography on Elias Ashmole (1617-92). Please consult www.tobiaschurton.com for more information.

From the Author’s website:

The year 2010 marks the centenary of the first public trial of the reputation of English poet, explorer, mystic, mountaineer, philosopher and prophet, ALEISTER CROWLEY (1875-1947). For 100 years, Crowley’s name has been smothered with pitch, his true achievements suppressed and his true character deformed and defaced in a campaign of vilification unparalleled in British history.

Crowley’s life has not been written; it has been written over.

Biography after biography has repeated and embellished the myth of the ‘demon Crowley’. Now, the true story can be told.

ALEISTER CROWLEY THE TRUE STORY is the thoroughly researched biography of Aleister Crowley, demolishing the myth, establishing the facts and telling with verve and style the incredibly exciting story of Crowley’s life, including many ‘missing years,’ intrigues, discoveries and extraordinary adventures, revealed and explained, for the first time.

ALEISTER CROWLEY’s unenviable reputation has ensured that writers have been able to say what they like because his reputation has been publicly deemed indefensible. But the ‘public reputation’ is a lie. This book proves it. Almost everything you ever heard about Aleister Crowley before is a myth.
The truth about Crowley is mind-blowing.


Author TOBIAS CHURTON has enjoyed complete access to all of Crowley’s restricted papers, unpublished letters and personal diaries kept in trust at London’s Warburg Institute and in the archives of Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis.

A staggering 90% of the authentic material relating to Aleister Crowley in the Biography has never before been published. This treasure trove reveals hundreds of completely new insights and has dictated a completely fresh approach to this astonishing figure of history and culture.

Churton has enjoyed an extraordinary level of privileged assistance from the O.T.O. organization, inheritor of Crowley’s copyrights. Thousands of pages of unpublished Crowley diaries, rare Crowley documents, photographs and information have been made available without restraint.

Churton has also enjoyed the co-operation of the small band of the world’s Crowley scholars, Dr Marco Pasi, Martin P.Starr and William Breeze, among others, to ensure the status and accuracy of information and interpretation. He has also received support from John Yorke, the son of Gerald Yorke who bequeathed the ‘Yorke Collection’ to the Warburg Institute, including permission to reproduce never before seen artwork of Crowley by Lady Frieda Harris.

The book contains a full investigation of the Crowley family through Alton town records and the Hampshire Department of Records, Winchester, as well as a detailed account of Crowley’s work as a British and Allied spy during World War One and subsequently, in Berlin during the early 1930s. The author has also contacted Crowley’s living relatives, thus filling in missing details regarding Crowley’s fraught family relationships, revealing a never before told story of great emotional impact.

TOBIAS CHURTON is one of the world’s leading scholars of Western Esotericism, specialising in Gnosticism, Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism. As well as being a noted bridge-builder between scholarship and the general reader, Churton’s popular style has been able to place Crowley accurately within the context of Western Esotericism and the emergent global culture that draws upon it.

The combination of so much new source material has created an entirely fresh biography of a 20th century figure as significant in status as Joyce, Einstein, Jung or Freud, a century after Crowley’s reputation was first buried by his enemies. It reveals a man frequently driven by high motives but whose ‘wicked’ and ironic sense of humour, and his espousal of a new religion of ‘light, life and liberty’ was used by his enemies to calumniate him in a manner redolent of witch trials and the psychology of medieval inquisitors with respect to heretics.

ALEISTER CROWLEY THE TRUE STORY contains adventure, intrigue, exploration, sex, romance, secret intelligence, great ideas, authentic mystery, spiritual values, poetry, liberation, revelation and revolution. Above all, it contains the true, astonishing figure of ALEISTER CROWLEY, a figure who will mesmerize and shock the world.

COMMENT ON THE MANUSCRIPT FROM: William Breeze, Chief Executive Officer, Ordo Templi Orientis

I am the chief executive officer of Ordo Templi Orientis, the exclusive owners of the copyrights in the published and unpublished works of Aleister Crowley.

I have carefully read Tobias Churton’s biography of Aleister Crowley and recommend it unreservedly.

While it is not uncritical of its subject, the author stands apart from other biographers by making an attempt to explain Crowley and his world view in a balanced and unprejudiced way.

Previous biographies of Crowley have typically had single print runs because they failed to appeal to the core market: the very large number of people who have a genuine interest in Crowley’s life and ideas.

We have given Mr Churton full access to our archives, and important academic collections whose copyrights we control, and his finished work reflects his in-depth mastery of the material; this is not a biography built on secondary sources, but rather makes very intelligent use of important primary sources, many for the first time.



I first heard of Aleister Crowley in 1964 when I was an undergraduate at Oxford. Having a romantic penchant for the strange and bizarre things of life, I was immediately intrigued by him. I read John Symonds’ biography The Great Beast, which, despite its disparaging tone, further piqued my interest in Crowley. I bought a first edition of his Magick in Theory and Practice and a book of his poems, but it was to be some years before I was able to see beyond Crowley’s sensationalised image and perceive the serious and original thinker that he was.

The man who above all opened my eyes to the deeper dimensions of Crowley was Gerald Yorke, who had become Crowley’s chief disciple in the late 1920s and who features prominently in this book. Breaking off his discipleship after a time, he nevertheless remained on friendly terms with Crowley until the latter’s death in 1947. In fond memory of his old friend, he amassed a large collection of Crowleyana, which he later donated to the Warburg Institute in London and which has provided a key source for this biography. Yorke was a fascinating person, who deserves a biography in his own right – an old Etonian, brilliant scholar at Cambridge, county cricketer for Gloucestershire, Lord of the Manor and later advisor to several publishers in the area of oriental religion, esotericism and related subjects. Among other things, he played a key role in the publication of the Dalai Lama’s works in the West.

I first met Gerald Yorke in February 1969 at an esoteric conference in London, then contacted him a few months later in connection with a projected documentary film on Crowley that I was planning in collaboration with my friend John Phillips, a television film director. We travelled by train to Gloucestershire and spent a wonderful summer day at Yorke’s beautiful ancestral home. He played us a recording of Crowley chanting Enochian invocations in his Churchillian voice, showed us scrapbooks full of Crowley memorabilia and talked endlessly and amusingly about his time with the ‘Old Boy’, as he called him. The film never materialised, but I continued to meet Yorke at intervals until his death in the 1983 and took part in many further conversations with his on the subject of Crowley. While Yorke greatly admired Crowley for his vast knowledge and his mastery of techniques for expanding consciousness, he was sceptical of Crowley’s claim to be the Messiah of the ‘Aeon of Horus’.

Looking back over the more than four decades since Crowley came to my attention, I am struck by the way his posthumous reputation has developed. When I first heard of him his general image was that of an enfant terrible. It seems to be the fate of many English enfant terribles that they start by being reviled and ostracised and end up being taken into the establishment and even given a peerage or some other honour. Crowley, it is true, was very far from being given a peerage and was still widely seen as an enfant terrible when he died, but his posthumous career has been impressive. By the 1970s he had become an icon of the New Age and the counter-culture, celebrated by the Beatles and by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. By the 1990s he had begun to be taken seriously within academe, and post-graduate dissertations on him were starting to appear. Today his prolific writings, including his fiction and poetry, are increasingly widely read; the Tarot pack that he designed with Lady Frieda Harris is familiar to Tarot aficionados everywhere; and the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), which he took up and developed, is now a thriving organisation with members in many different countries. Even his ideas about the Aeon of Horus are beginning to catch on more widely. One person who has written interestingly on this topic is the highly original esoteric writer Ramsey Dukes. In one of his essays he writes: ‘The New Aeon calls for a new moral approach: God is no longer saying ‘follow my example’, instead humanity is being challenged to stand on its own feet …Horus has thrown down the gauntlet to those spiritual wimps who still cry out for ‘moral leadership’ from their church or their superiors. He asks ‘have you no moral sense of your own?’. (Ramsey Dukes, ‘The Caliphate OTO’ in What I Did in My Holidays; Oxford, Mandrake in collaboration with The Mouse that Spins, 1998, pp. 141-2.)

So Crowley has come a long way since his death in poverty and relative obscurity. However, despite the appearance of a number of biographies of him in the intervening years, no biographer has fully measured up to the task … until now, for in Tobias Churton Crowley has at last found a worthy biographer. Based on intensive research among the papers in the Warburg Institute and other original sources, Churton’s book delivers a far more full and accurate picture of Crowley than ever before. While Churton is not blind to his subject’s flaws, he thoroughly demolishes the farrago of lies and calumnies that have dogged Crowley reputation for so long. Whereas other biographers have tended to take Crowley’s extravagant and deliberate poses at their face value, Churton shows us the real man behind them – a man who genuinely believed in the new vision for humanity which he proclaimed and for which he struggled throughout his life in the face of enormous adversity. Crowley also turns out to have had great human qualities – the letter he wrote to his infant son ‘Aleister Ataturk’ is one of the most moving documents quoted in this book. Churton also makes some astonishing new revelations – for example in connection with Crowley’s extraordinary career as a British secret agent. This was little known until the appearance of Richard Spence’s book Secret Agent 666, and Churton takes the story further and deeper. He also uncovers startling new information about Aiwass, the channelled entity behind The Book of the Law, about Crowley’s role in both the First and Second World Wars, and much more … but I must leave Tobias Churton to let the cats out of the bags. The reader will put down this book with an entirely new perspective on Aleister Crowley. The ‘Old Boy’ would be delighted to have been given a full and fair hearing at last.

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