“Today is Aleister Crowley’s Birthday (12th October 1875).
Born Edward Alexander Crowley, he was an accomplished mountaineer, artist, poet, chemist and occultist, who is most well known for his esoteric books. He studied at Cambridge then travelled widely, and was amongst the earliest westerners to study, translate and bring back the key works of Eastern Philosophy. In his youth he was part of a team of mountaineers who very nearly climbed the then unexplored K2.
He was deeply involved in the world of fringe Freemasonry and magical orders, most notably The Golden Dawn. He studied and socialized there alongside all the great and good of the day (artists/poets/authors), along with the Order of Oriental Templars. Although vilified during his own lifetime by the tabloid press and accused of being a traitor, it has since come to light that during the wars he spied for the allies. Labelled “The Wickedest Man in The World” he often courted controversy and led a very liberal lifestyle that would hardly raise an eyebrow today – but did back then.
Keenly interested in personal freedom and the discovery and fulfilment of ones own personal destiny, he founded his own religious/philosophical movement which he called “Thelema”. It stated “Do What Thou Wilt” – a counter culture statement of freedom embraced in the sixties, but often misunderstood to mean do what you like! John Lennon was a fan, and Crowley was featured on the cover of the Beatles “Sgt. Peppers” album. Another fan, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, bought Crowley’s old home (Boleskine house) in Scotland on the shores of Loch Ness. He died 1st December 1947. A complex and controversial person no doubt, a man ahead of his time, but a man who certainly left his mark on the world!
For those interested in reading more about him I highly recommend the excellent biographies: Aleister Crowley by Tobias Churton or Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley by Richard Kaczynski.”