Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism

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Visitors to this site will be as excited as me by the announcement of the publication of:

Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism
Edited by Henrik Bogdan and Martin P Starr

This volume is the first comprehensive examination of one of the twentieth century’s most distinctive iconoclasts.

Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) was a study in contradictions. Born into a fundamentalist Christian family and educated at Cambridge, he was vilified as a traitor, drug addict, and debaucher, yet revered as perhaps the most influential thinker in contemporary esotericism. Moving beyond the influence of contemporary psychology and the modernist understanding of the occult, Crowley declared himself the revelator of a new age of individualism. Crowley’s occult bricolage, Magick, was an eclectic combination of spiritual exercises drawn from Western European magical ceremonies and Indic sources for meditation and yoga. This journey of self-liberation culminated in harnessing sexual power as a magical discipline, a “sacrilization of the self” as practiced in Crowley’s mixed masonic group, the Ordo Templi Orientis.

The religion Crowley created, Thelema, legitimated his role as a charismatic revelator and herald of a new age of freedom. Aleister Crowley’s lasting influence can be seen in the counter-culture movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s and in many forms of alternative spirituality and popular culture. The essays in this volume offer crucial insight into Crowley’s foundational role in the study of Western esotericism, new religious movements, and sexuality.


• Comprehensive examination of an understudied thinker


“One would be hard-pressed to put together an assemblage of people to equal the scholars included in this collection-the cream of the crop of those esoteric scholars who have studied Crowley. The volume makes a significant contribution to esoteric studies and will set future debates about Crowley. It will be a must-read text for all esoteric scholars in the next generation.” — J Gordon Melton, Distinguished Professor of American Religious History, Baylor University

Product Details

432 pages; 6-1/8 x 9-1/4
ISBN13: 978-0-19-986309-9
ISBN10: 0-19-986309-1

About the Author(s)

Henrik Bogdan is Associate Professor in History of Religions at the University of Gothenburg. In addition to numerous articles, he is the author of Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation (2007) and editor of Brother Curwen, Brother Crowley: A Correspondence, by Aleister Crowley and David Curwen (2010). 

Martin P Starr was the editor of the Teitan Press series of the works of Aleister Crowley which appeared between 1985 and 2003. He is the author of The Unknown God: W. T. Smith and the Thelemites (2003), the first academic study of Aleister Crowley’s followers in the USA.


  • Foreword: “Bringing Light to the Underground” by Wouter J. Hanegraaff
  • Introduction by Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr
  • “The Sorcerer and His Apprentice: Aleister Crowley and the Magical Exploration of Edwardian Subjectivity” by Alex Owen
  • “Varieties of Magical Experience: Aleister Crowley’s Views on Occult Practice” by Marco Pasi
  • “Envisioning the Birth of a New Aeon: Dispensationalism and Millenarianism in the Thelemic Tradition” by Henrik Bogdan
  • “The Great Beast as a Tantric Hero: The Role of Yoga and Tantra in Aleister Crowley’s Magick” by Gordan Djurdjevic
  • “Continuing Knowledge from Generation unto Generation: The Social and Literary Background of Aleister Crowley’s Magick” by Richard Kaczynski
  • “Aleister Crowley and the Yezidis” by Tobias Churton
  • “Frenzies of the Beast: The Phaedran Furores in the Rites and Writings of Aleister Crowley” by Matthew D. Rogers
  • “Aleister Crowley-Freemason?!” by Martin P. Starr
  • ” ‘The One Thought that was not Untrue’: Aleister Crowley and A. E. Waite” by Robert A. Gilbert
  • “The Beast and the Prophet: Aleister Crowley’s Fascination with Joseph Smith” by Massimo Introvigne
  • “Crowley and Wicca” by Ronald Hutton
  • “Through the Witch’s Looking Glass: The Magick of Aleister Crowley and the Witchcraft of Rosaleen Norton” Keith Richmond
  • “The Occult Roots of Scientology: L. Ron Hubbard, Aleister Crowley, and the Origins of a Controversial New Religion” by Hugh B. Urban
  • “Satan and the Beast: The Influence of Aleister Crowley on Modern Satanism” by Asbjørn Dyrendal.



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