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.
The FOREWORD to ALEISTER CROWLEY – THE TRUE STORY has been written by DR CHRISTOPHER MCINTOSH, author of THE ROSICRUCIANS, GARDENS OF THE GODS and ELIPHAS LEVI AND THE FRENCH OCCULT REVIVAL
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.
Pre-order : $20 : http://amzn.to/egItpL