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Crowley and Freemasonry  

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Falcon
(@falcon)
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26/05/2011 7:49 pm  

Crowley was made a Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the 33rd degree of the Scottish Rite in Mexico and 95th degree Memphis and 90 degree Mizraim, but was he ever a member of 'regular' 'blue masonry' or the United Grand Lodge of England, as UGLE dispute that he ever was a 'real' Freemason?

"I had never bothered my head about it, it being evident that all freemasonry was either vain pretence, tomfoolery, an excuse for drunken rowdiness, or a sinister association for political intrigues and commercial pirates. Theodor Reuss told me a good deal of the history of the various rites, which is just as confused and criminal as any branch of history; but he did persuade me that there were a few men who took the matter seriously and believed that the foolish formalism concealed really important magical secrets...orthodox freemasons are unable to explain why women cannot become Master Masons... Co-Masonry, Le Droit Humain under Mrs Besant, they were so obviously exactly as good as real freemasons...A plan had already been mooted for me to reconstruct freemasonry...I had myself initiated in Lodge Number 343 'Anglo-Saxon' in Paris...I returned to England some time later, after 'passing the chair' in my lodge, and wishing to join the Royal Arch...I walked to another room in Freemasons' Hall and took my seat as a Past Master in one of the oldest and most eminent lodges in London."

-Crowley 'Confessions'


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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26/05/2011 8:12 pm  

with regard to crowley and masonry I would highly recommend this excellent article by Martin P Starr;

http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/aqc/crowley.html


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Falcon
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26/05/2011 9:58 pm  

Very informative article. Thank you.


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William Thirteen
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26/05/2011 10:58 pm  

indeed, thanks for the link. i've bookmarked it for future reference whenever the subject of AC & Freemasonry rears its 33° head.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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27/05/2011 1:36 am  

Even to this day, Crowley has a bad reputation in UGLE circles (and other regular masonic bodies). This is slowly changing, however, as more masons with an interest in the occult start to give recognition to what Crowley contributed to that field. His insights on masonry and its secrets are generally good, with two particular exceptions. First, his personal experiences left him thinking that regular masons are generally ignorant of the magickal significance of the masonic rituals; while this is certainly true of many masons, it is far from a universal truth. An immense amount of work has been done in this area, and I would go so far as to say that Masonry is probably the order in the western world with the largest number of practicing magicians (even though these are perhaps only one-tenth of the entire population of active masons).
Second, I think Crowley would have hit a big barrier (as many self-styled occultists do) with the value of the fact that in regular masonry, you serve your year as master and then STEP DOWN. One reason there are so many pseudo-masonic bodies out there, and likewise why so many of these bodies are in shambles, is because so many of the people drawn to these groups have dreams of being the "outer head of the order ad vitam".


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christibrany
(@christibrany)
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27/05/2011 2:43 am  

Would you really call masons magicians? I am speaking from only public knowledge of course, but it seems the way they performed their rituals lost all meaning and energetic potency long ago, just like catholic ones, you dont call them magicians either. Just saying. Strike me down if I'm wrong- good chance of that actually.


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Shiva
(@shiva)
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Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 4920
27/05/2011 5:06 am  

Whenever a system has been around for a while, it tends to get crystallized. Rules and dogma and protocol become "fixed" and pretty soon there's a system in place that dominates a participant's whole life. The Holy? Roman Catholic? Church has been around long enough to be really stuck in its ways. Yet the saying we heard from out teachers who had been at Agape Lodge was: Always remember, a lot of people succeed despite the Church.
The OTO rites are based almost completely on Freemasonry. That was the definition of OTO when it first got started. There was this "secret wisdom" that once was intact and it got dispersed [probably due to the Holy? Church and the Dark Ages and the Inquisition, etc, but don't neglect the individual egos who might have broken away and helped to splinter the lineage], and then the Chiefs of all these dispersed Orders got together and threw their papers on a table and said, "Now the secret wisdom is intact again."
But the rites were just the same, more or less. Then Crowley came along, grabbed the rites and went to work: substituting, more or less. Put in Saladin as the initiating officer, trade the Temple for a tent; give it an Arabic flair and change the Word. Bingo and Abrahadabra without the "c."
Masonry is not so old and so crystallized that nobody gets anywhere. Those that have eyes to see will see, whether or not they are blindfolded in a tent or a temple or a church (do they "hoodwink" anybody in the church rites? Physically, I mean).
This Path, this Great Work, is about a person having a chat with his or her higher nature, Angel or Star. All this other stuff, tents and temples and basilicas and cathedrals, is just a temporary construct. Each person gets to choose which structure he or she likes best.
Masonry is pretty straight in disclosing a brotherhood of man concept. That's why you step down and move on to the next grade. It's not about YOU! (We see the same problem in politics - lifetime politicians).
Anyway, it's not REALLY about these stupid paper trails. The Gestapo liked that one. "Your papers, please!" they would say as they extended their hand in order to find out who you REALLY were. Ha!
Crowley was a Mason, whether recognized or clandestine. OTO still has concerns about legitimacy versus rogues and the rabble. Individuals, who are NOT Masons or Oriental Templars of a high degree or Cardinals in the Universal Joke, er Church that is, and who are devoting excessive mental energy toward examining paper trails, need to increase their asana time and do 49 more pranayamas.
Depart in Pieces, er Peace that is.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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27/05/2011 6:33 pm  
"christibrany" wrote:
Would you really call masons magicians? I am speaking from only public knowledge of course, but it seems the way they performed their rituals lost all meaning and energetic potency long ago, just like catholic ones, you dont call them magicians either. Just saying. Strike me down if I'm wrong- good chance of that actually.

I used to believe that line too. Its a pretty standard line in Thelemic circles (which I guess is part of what justifies people paying considerably more in dues to be part of a group that has considerably poorer facilities and less networking, at least they "really get it" unlike those stupid masons).

But in fact, the meaning and potency of it is very much alive. In some lodges it is stronger than others, it depends how many are in a lodge that are inclined toward the ritual; but when a Lodge is opened there's always a serious energy shift going on. And while not all masons may "get it", pretty much all of them want to "get it", to understand the hidden meanings of the rite. And again, if only a minority percentage of Freemasons are actually interested in masonry for its esoteric value, even if it were only 10% of masons worldwide, it would still utterly DWARF any other "magickal order" out there. The cOTO has what, 3000 active members? Masonry's worldwide population is something like 5 million.


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choronzonclub
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28/05/2011 5:13 am  

I have written a response to Martin's article that I delivered to Oregon Research Lodge. It deals with all the pertinent questions of Aleister Crowley's status as a Freemason, though it is skewed towards the perspective of Grand Lodges in the United States.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/56501400/Aleister-Crowley-Freemason-Revisited-2


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William Thirteen
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28/05/2011 4:58 pm  

Very interesting. Have you ever heard a response from Starr?


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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28/05/2011 5:03 pm  

Thanks for that link, it is amazing how contorted these things get and in a way how 'meaningless' they are too. But a good article and interesting detective work 🙂


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Falcon
(@falcon)
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28/05/2011 5:30 pm  

A well written and researched article.

OTO = Quality UGLE = Quantity

I would estimate that there could possibly be a 1%-2% percentage of genuine occultists within UGLE. The vast majority of members join for social reasons, rather than to practise magick.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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28/05/2011 6:46 pm  

Falcon; I think that the main difference between "Occultists" in regular freemasonry and the types of "occultists" that join the OTO is that the latter are more likely to be "obsessives"; it is more likely to be something all-consuming to their identity. They also tend to wear occultism on their sleeve like a fashion statement.

Most masons I've encountered have had a sincere interest in deepening their understanding of the occult mysteries of masonic symbolism, and virtually all of them are active and interested participants of ritual who seek to improve in their ability to perform and experience the ritual, and make others experience it. If that is not a magician, what is?
Let's say that there's only 1%, however, within worldwide regular masonry who are really HARDCORE magicians, who are the kind of thing an OTO-person is likely to recognize as a magician. That still means that worldwide, there's something like FIFTY THOUSAND masons who are "serious" occultists. Compared to a couple of thousand OTO members. Freemasonry, it seems, has both quality and quantity.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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28/05/2011 7:57 pm  
"Swamiji" wrote:
Falcon; I think that the main difference between "Occultists" in regular freemasonry and the types of "occultists" that join the OTO is that the latter are more likely to be "obsessives"; it is more likely to be something all-consuming to their identity. They also tend to wear occultism on their sleeve like a fashion statement.

Most masons I've encountered have had a sincere interest in deepening their understanding of the occult mysteries of masonic symbolism, and virtually all of them are active and interested participants of ritual who seek to improve in their ability to perform and experience the ritual, and make others experience it. If that is not a magician, what is?
Let's say that there's only 1%, however, within worldwide regular masonry who are really HARDCORE magicians, who are the kind of thing an OTO-person is likely to recognize as a magician. That still means that worldwide, there's something like FIFTY THOUSAND masons who are "serious" occultists. Compared to a couple of thousand OTO members. Freemasonry, it seems, has both quality and quantity.

All abstract over-generalizations and speculations aside, this sounds like part of the endlessly boring "my Order is better than your Order" syndrome.


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Falcon
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28/05/2011 8:11 pm  

Swamiji...I know you said WORLDWIDE freemasonry, but I meant UGLE only, which according to its website has a "quarter of a million members meeting in over 8,000 lodges".
1% of that figure would be 2,500 members only. Having stated that I would encourage any genuine Occultists in masonry.

www.ugle.org.uk/about-ugle/


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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28/05/2011 9:46 pm  
"Falcon" wrote:
Swamiji...I know you said WORLDWIDE freemasonry, but I meant UGLE only, which according to its website has a "quarter of a million members meeting in over 8,000 lodges".
1% of that figure would be 2,500 members only. Having stated that I would encourage any genuine Occultists in masonry.

www.ugle.org.uk/about-ugle/

Fair enough, though that would still mean that UGLE alone would come pretty close to the "worldwide" figures of a group like the OTO.


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 Anonymous
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28/05/2011 10:04 pm  
"zardoz" wrote:
All abstract over-generalizations and speculations aside, this sounds like part of the endlessly boring "my Order is better than your Order" syndrome.

Mostly, it is an attempt to create a different way of thinking about the all-too-common dismissal/self-justifying attitude among "indie" occultists (and thelemites in particular) that Freemasonry is somehow worthless, passe, or composed of numbskulls who know not what they do.

There are plenty of masons who are involved in masonry to "hangout with the guys" and enjoy a good scotch over the festive board; or do charity, or for friendship, or because their grandpa did it. There are also quite a few who are really excellent students of the esoteric.

Likewise, I've met quite a few occultists in the OTO who are excellent students of the esoteric; and quite a lot of others who are in it because its counter-cultural, or they have aspirations of occult power, or because they want to be seen ("magickal hipsters"?).

I wish I could say that there is less megalomania or rampant power-mongering in Regular Freemasonry than in orders like the OTO; but the truth is I think there is a similar likelihood of people with those characteristics ending up in either group, the only difference being that perhaps regular Masonry has developed certain safeguards to mitigate the ability of those kind of people to cause serious damage to the order itself.

There are probably quite a lot of masons who "don't get it" as far as the meaning and true nature of the symbols of masonry are concerned. There are likewise, I have seen, many people involved in the OTO (or other "magickal orders") who don't get it. Its really not about the institution; if you don't get it, you don't get it.

My whole thing here isn't to say that regular Masonry is really better than the OTO or something like that, but that perhaps its a good idea to think twice before dismissing the single longest-lasting most successful magickal order in western civilization; and certainly not to assume that if a guy wears a suit and tie instead of a set of robes and a ring with square and compass instead of a thelemic tattoo it means the guy isn't a "real magician".

I think Crowley could have given a lot to Masonry, and Masonry could have given a lot to Crowley (had the combination of the nature of things at the time, and Crowley's personality, not made it pretty historically inevitable that he'd end up in the fringes of pseudo-masonry); and I think that today Thelemites giving regular freemasonry a chance would probably be very pleasantly surprised, and would benefit, and in turn would be able to do a great deal of good for regular masonry as an institution.

93 93/93
Swami


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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30/05/2011 11:11 pm  

93

Nice link given above, cheers!

In regards to attitudes towards the occult&Masonry, indeed some men join Masonry to get away from their ball&chains, to get into other orders like the Shiners, or even upon influence of work colleges, but those genuinely interested would likely have a significant interest in its esoteric nature.

With traditions such as the Hermetic-Qabalahistic, the allegoric symbolism is hard to ignore. Just because a Regular Mason may not have an interest in magic(k)al orders doesn't mean they may not have an interest in its occult aspects.

While on topic, a good enquiring into some of its peculiar esoteric roots is featured in this weeks lecture at IrishFreemasony.com with Wor Bro Chris McClintock, author of The Craft and the Cross.

http://irishfreemasonry.com./index.php?news&nid=27

Agape,

93 93/93


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amadan-De
(@amadan-de)
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30/05/2011 11:42 pm  

Thanks for the link Khephra - just started watching and he's speaking to things that relate directly to my work so I'm fascinated to see where he takes them.

Even if I ultimately disagree with his ideas getting an insight from another perspective is always valuable.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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31/05/2011 6:51 am  

No worries. I found it very beneficial as well.

93's


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 Anonymous
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31/05/2011 9:07 pm  
"Swamiji" wrote:
I think Crowley could have given a lot to Masonry, and Masonry could have given a lot to Crowley (had the combination of the nature of things at the time, and Crowley's personality, not made it pretty historically inevitable that he'd end up in the fringes of pseudo-masonry);

Crowley gave much to the system of Masonry and to the World when he took the basic masonic organizational form and revitalized it along Thelemic principles.

He did not reject traditional masonry but incorporated into the OTO in a similar way that Einstein's Relativity physics did not reject Newtonion classical physics but incorporated it into a broader and more useful scientific model.

I have nothing but respect for anyone whose spiritual path is centered in Freemasonry or in any of the traditional paths.

I am not a member, but the fact that the OTO numbers are much smaller than regular freemasonry indicates, to me, a higher probability of something real going on there. Quantity at the expense of quality seems a truism in most, if not all, human endeavors. By your own estimation 90% of regular Freemasons are there for social or other reasons.


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 Anonymous
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01/06/2011 6:05 am  

I don't see the OTO structure as a "broader and more useful" model than regular masonry; if anything I see it as a "narrower and more specialized" model. Which means it can have useful applications; and may be more useful for (a smaller set) of certain people at certain times. But I think that if one wants Masonry to undergo a "magickal revival", now is the most propitious time of any in the last very long while.

I would argue that Crowley's various (unfortunately failed) attempts to get "in" with regular Masonry is a pretty good indication that he really felt there is "something real" going on there.


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 Anonymous
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01/06/2011 6:15 am  
"Swamiji" wrote:
I would argue that Crowley's various (unfortunately failed) attempts to get "in" with regular Masonry is a pretty good indication that he really felt there is "something real" going on there.

Yes, Crowley felt it real enough to use as one vehicle for getting his vision across. In getting his vision across, Aleister Crowley enjoys great and continually blossoming success.


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 Anonymous
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01/06/2011 6:44 am  

I hope it will continue to blossom.


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 Anonymous
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11/10/2011 7:26 pm  

I came across this article while researching my play. Hope it is of interest.

Aleister Crowley: freemason!

By Bro. Martin P. Starr


INTRODUCTION
IT MAY SURPRISE some and horrify others to learn that Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the 20th century’s best-known mage, was ever remotely associated with the masonic fraternity. Although, unbeknown to him at the time of joining, all his affiliations were with unrecognized and irregular bodies, Crowley’s status as a freemason went largely unquestioned by non-masons throughout his life. Events show that the distinctions of regularity meant much to his masonic contemporaries and little to the rest, where reputation as a freemason preceded him, as when the Nazi Geheime Staatspolizei arrested Crowley’s German disciple Karl Germer in February 1935 for the 'crime' of being a friend of the 'Hochgradfreimaurer Crowley'. This paper examines Crowley’s masonic contacts, regular and otherwise, with the express purpose of separating out the myths from the masonic realities, a task never previously attempted, and thereby elucidating the life of an influential figure in esoteric studies whose writings attract growing critical attention. From Nesta Webster and the British Fascist movement down to Lyndon LaRouche, Crowley’s name and association with Freemasonry, much like that of Albert Pike, has been dragged in as a red herring in the 'orgy of cant' that typifies the anti-masonic outpouring of right-wing conspiracy theorists; it is hoped that some documentation might prove useful to brethren in rebutting similar nonsense. In a masonic context, Crowley is perhaps best remembered as a literate early 20th century enthusiast of the esoteric school of Freemasonry. Yet despite his interest in founding (if not running) organizations, Crowley was a social revolutionary and had little use for existing structures; this would prove to be his bane where English Freemasonry was concerned. Crowley’s life was significantly affected by a number of brethren whose careers have been the subject of articles in recent volumes of AQC, including Dr. William Wynn Westcott (AQC 100 (1987), pp. 6-32) and Theodor Reuss (AQC 91 (1978), pp. 28-46), and some that could benefit from further scholarly attention, most prominent among them being John Yarker, whose Sovereign Sanctuary of the Antient and Primitive Rite of Freemasonry devolved to the Ordo Templi Orientis, a non-masonic esoteric society now largely identified with Crowley’s work. The present paper does not attempt to delineate the history of either organization, but refers to each in its place when Crowley attempted to obtain the recognition or involvement of the regular masonic authorities.
BEGINNINGS

Read more here http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/aqc/crowley.html


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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24/03/2012 9:13 pm  

The problem is that he took his grades in an irregular lodge, which means that he would not be recognised by a regular lodge, or the grand lodge.

Although Crowley does slate freemasonry it was obviously important enough to him to take join the orders. He may consider them vain but he himself did have his photos taken in full regalia.

Personally I think the reason he rejected freemasonry is because he wanted to take join the Holy Royal Arch but was turned down because of his irregular lodge affiliation.


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