Wilson stoutly disagrees with the Crowley disciple who wrote of him in the Oxford student magazine, “Isis”, that his ‘ideals are noble his honor stainless and his life devoted wholly to the service of mankind’. Wilson thinks, and not without ample reason, that Crowley was a selfish and horrible human being, but he is honest insofar as he is willing to give credit where credit is due and admits he had phenomenal will power and a profound understanding of true Magick.
Although he was popularly despised during his lifetime and forced to suffer under the epithet, “the wickedest man in the world”, and his religion and system of magic “Thelema” (Crowleyanity) originally found expression in seedy cults and underground organizations during the first half of the twentieth century, it has since grown to be the official religion of today’s power elites and he himself has himself become a cultural icon.
According to Crowley Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with the Will. This is his central definition of Magick.
Wilson surmises that feelings of futility and apathy come from feeling trapped in the external world and that true freedom results from a descent into oneself. There we can experience states of mind in which syncronicities will occur, and this indicates that there is a element of Magick in everyday living that Crowley had managed to tap into. He seemed to have the power that Jung referred to as ‘active imagination’, which is the power to dive into the subconscious mind and see visions, which is the power that followers of the Kabbalah cultivate and is frequently mentioned in books on the practice of Magick.
Crowley was a very skilled magician. His curses invariably worked, and those he hexed were sure to suffer dire misfortune. He was able to affect people’s behavior, and even personalities through a form of telepathic hypnosis, inducing them to be agreeable and magnanimous towards him, or even, as related in the book, made to act like crazed lunatics, or even dogs.
I can certainly relate to Crowley having to live under the black cloud of negative publicity, even though in his case he largely brought it on himself, while mine is directly attributable to contrived tabloid television drama, theatrics and behind the scenes interference. Even though his is richly deserved I did feel sympathy for him since I know from personal experience how small and petty people generally are. Media defamation seems to magnify this natural tendency of theirs to intolerable proportions. Fortunately for him he had his personal magnetism with which to attract women and followers to himself despite all the media madness that swirled around him everywhere he went. The women he attracted he dominated completely, and usually, after he left them, they became alcoholic wrecks and literally drank themselves to death.
As with most larger than life characters it can be almost impossible to separate fact from legend. His last mistress tells us that the second he died the curtains blew outward and there was a violent peal of thunder. She speculated that it could have been God welcoming his soul. I’m sure most would assume, if, in fact this actually happened at all and signified anything, that it was most likely the devil consigning his spirit to the lake of fire.
All in all, though its a very short book (168 pages pages) it was a very satisfying read and had much more substance to it than the other book on Crowley that I read, “The Beast” by Daniel Mannix, which was mostly lurid sensationalism. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding an affordable copy of it, especially if you follow the link provided below. I heartily recommend it. Five out of four stars.
Aleister Crowley The Nature of the Beast