What the world needs now is … a collaborative Thelemic Bibliography. “The Wickedest Books In The World”, my good friend Ian calls it, with a healthy dollop of irony and an expectation that some will take the term at face value.
This collaborative bibliography — the Bibliographia Thelemica — was conceived as a natural extension of LAShTAL.COM’s activities. And perhaps now is as good an opportunity as any to remind visitors that LAShTAL.COM is – amongst other things – the home of The Aleister Crowley Society, committed to aiding the serious study of the life and works of Aleister Crowley. This bibliography is a significant step in that direction.
Those of us who study The Beast and all his works and have done so in units of decades rather than weeks, and have often bemoaned the complete absence of a serious modern bibliography. Historically, a few items have helped, but none have met the needs of modern students:
* The bibliography included in Crowley’s “Collected Works” was impressive for its time but necessarily abbreviated by its early publication.
* Gerald Yorke, keeper of Crowley’s flame, as it were, produced a short but useful summary (“Bibliography of the Works of Aleister Crowley”) which was published in the earliest of Symonds’ many biographies.
* In 1966, J F C Fuller’s auction catalogue was published, and has been republished several times as “666 Bibliotheca Crowleyana”.
* A decade later Andrew Drylie and Will Parfitt published “A Crowley Cross-Index” – avowedly not a bibliography but a charming and useful guide to sources. This booklet was my constant companion in the book-hunting days of the late 70s and early 80s.
* The Cornelius’s Red Flame journal series published the excellent: “ALEISTER CROWLEY DESK REFERENCE: A Listing of the Works of Aleister Crowley 1875-1947 in the private Library of J Edward & Marlene Cornelius”. This has since been made available online and effectively continues Drylie & Parfitt’s approach.
Bookseller Timothy d’Arch Smith’s “The Books Of The Beast” pointed out the talismanic quality and simple beauty of many of Crowley’s first editions. But, short of competing at auctions with multi-millionaire rock stars, how could the ordinary Thelemite or Crowley student actually see the works? Recently, some images have become available online, including those on websites such as Brad Gay’s ground-breaking 666books.com.
So, into the breach stepped LAShTAL.COM in 2005 ev, with a simple list of books and an encouragement to members to add to the information for no other personal compensation than the warm feeling that results from doing what one knows to be “right”. The idea was to provide a means for other members of LAShTAL.COM to contribute to what could become the definitive Thelemic Bibliography; and, as a result of a conversation regarding the dearth of good bibliographic software to host such a project in the long-term, Ian Rons suggested he could “cobble something together” to improve things. 300 kilobytes of code later, this is the result.
Members can click on Bibliographia Thelemica to explore and to join in…
What has developed over many months of beta-testing by some of the acknowledged experts and the most committed collectors of Crowleyana is the Bibliograhia Thelemica, an online research tool of unrivalled value. The key is in its collaborative nature: if you see something that’s out-of-date, in need of updating or just plain wrong, then update it. Be sure to comply with the guidelines, but be comforted by the fact that we share LAShTAL.COM with the most knowledgeable Thelemites, many of whom are [Thelemic] household names: if you get something wrong it can always be corrected, Wikipedia-style, collaboratively.
If you use the bibliography for published research, please comply with the terms of the licence and ensure that LAShTAL.COM receives due acknowledgement.
I’d like to record my personal thanks to the beta-testers who went far beyond the usual boundaries of that rôle, enhancing the database with the most amazing images and information. And, finally, my deep gratitude to Ian Rons, for spending untold hours developing the database and application, not once complaining about my unreasonable expectations and vague instructions…