Fernando Pessoa and Crowley
I am very interested in Fernando Pessoa and his influence on Portuguese poetry, literature and indeed mystical thought. His relationship to Crowley however is little covered apart from a few newspaper clippings here and there, for example:
So it was with great interest that I came across these two papers. My apologies if these have been posted already (I did a search but could not find them)
Fernando Pessoa and Aleister Crowley: New discoveries and a new analysis of the documents in the Gerald Yorke Collection
September 1930, Lisbon; Aleister Crowley’s lost diary of his Portuguese trip
Can anyone point me to further information?
Of interest is the fact that Ofiússa or Ophiussa is the name given by the ancient Greeks to the Portuguese territory and it translates as 'Land of Serpents'.
The ofis would live mainly in the mountains of northern Portugal, including Galicia. Others say that they lived at the mouth of the rivers Douro and Tagus. These people were said to worship serpents, so being THE LAND OF SERPENTS.
In the 4th century, the Roman poet and explorer Rufus Festus Avienus (or Avieno Rufus Festus) wrote a document later titled Ora Maritima, a document inspired by a sea voyage to "Oestriminis" (or far west). Oestrimni was said to be populated by a people who lived in that area for a long time, who had to flee their land after an "invasion of serpents." This may be a relation to Saephe or ofis ("the people of the serpents") and Dragani ("the people of Dragons"), who came to colonize these lands and formed a territory known to the Greeks as Ophiussa. Some authors relate the people Ofi with the Druids or proto-Celtic or even ancient Egyptians.
The expulsion of Oestrimni, the Ora Maritima
Ophiussam usque ad. rursum ab huius litore
internum ad Aequor, Wed mare is insinuare
dixi ante Terris, quodque Sardum nuncupant,
septem dierum tenditur pediti route.
Ophiussa porro so panditur latus
Quantam iacere Pelopis Audis insulam
Graiorum in agri. HAEC dicta cousin Oestrymnis est
loci et arva Oestrymnicis habitantibus,
post serpens fine effugavit incolas
vacuamque glaebam nominis fecit sui.
Back after the places we spoke of above,
there opens a great bay filled with water,
all the way to Ophiussa. Back from the shore of this place,
to the inland water, through which I said before that the sea insinuates itself
through the land, and which they call Sardum,
the journey extends for seven days on foot.
Ophiusa extends its side, being as large
as you hear the Island of Pelops
lying in the territory of the Greeks is. This land was originally called Oestrymnis
by those who inhabited the Oestrymnian countryside and region,
much later the serpent chased away the inhabitants
and gave the now empty land its name
The history is indeed fascinating:
"The Lusitanians worshipped various gods in a very diverse polytheism, using animal sacrifice. They represented their gods and warriors in rudimentary sculpture. Endovelicus was the most important god: his cult eventually spread across the Iberian peninsula and beyond, to the rest of the Roman Empire and his cult maintained until the 5th century; he was the god of public health and safety. The goddess Ataegina was especially popular in the south; as the goddess of rebirth (Spring), fertility, nature, and cure, she was identified with Proserpina during the Roman era. Lusitanian mythology was related to Celtic mythology, and during later Roman rule it also became heavily influenced by Roman mythology, as Romans also started venerating Lusitanian gods. Runesocesius, the javelin god, was also an important god, and often formed the supreme trinity in the Lusitanian pagan religion with Endovelicus and Ataegina." - Wiki
Ataegina - Ataecina - Atégina
Bandua - Bandue - Bandi
"PORTUGAL is a being. This entity has to fulfill a destiny. " - Fernando Pessoa
Here is a cable which Crowley sent to Pessoa, announcing his arrival:
AC then faked his death at the "Boca do Inferno", and Pessoa tried to sell the story to some european newspapers.
The whole story is laid out in "Boca do Inferno: Aleister Crowleys Verschwinden in Portugal" by Steffen Dix (ISBN-10 3100608291). There's nothing about serpent men in there though. Dix even failed to identify what "G.W.B." stands for.
Marcelo Motta considered Pessoa to be a Master of the Temple of the A.'.A.'.
Did Motta ever say why he thought that?
Not that I know, Michael. At least I haven't found anything in his writings (so far). But I know one of his old students, and will ask him. If Dix' book is to be believed, then Pessoa and AC haven't talked much about orders. AC obviously wanted Pessoa to run the OTO in Portugal, but I doubt anything ever came out of this. Maybe Motta was simply judging him by his poetry, or maybe he met him in the city of the pyramids 😉
You may also wish to read Marco Pasi's excellent Aleister Crowley and the Temptation of Politics, currently available in Italian and German, though an English edition is planned, for information on the relationship between these two men.
You might want to get yourself a copy of 'Encontro Magick' which provides a wealth of information about the Pessoa / Crowley relationship with much of the material translated in English. The Steffen Dix book is in German and, as far as I could see, provides nothing that isn't available in 'EM'...
See the links here...
Thank you so much for your suggestions guys. You have been a great help.
I laughed a little inside.
This is an area I'm working in as well. I am primarily interested in what was attracting Pessoa to Crowley's ideas and what Pessoa took from the exchange. I'm more familiar with the Crowley side, so I have been spending most of my time so far learning about the Lusitanian tradition that Pessoa drew from. Can you read in Portuguese (or French), or are you needing available works in English? There's a great deal of information available on the Portuguese side, but very little of it has been translated. I am working on doing some summaries in English, and will post the relevant ones here as I go.
Pessoa is a fascinating character...well, several fascinating characters, actually...so it's a huge area to study if you're trying to understand Pessoa's spirituality. If I can understand what you're looking for specifically, I can perhaps be a bit more precise with my help.
For now, some ones to add (I've tried to pick a couple that do not duplicate Pasi's findings - though most of what I have will be in Portuguese):
Helena Barbas does a study of Pessoa's translation of the "Hymn to Pan": http://helenabarbas.net/papers/2003_Pan_Hino_H_Barbas.pdf
Zhou Miao's disseration "Mundividência Esotérica e Poética Iniciática de Fernando Pessoa" has some discussion of the influence/relationship with Crowley: http://www.umfernandopessoa.com/uploads/1/6/1/3/16136746/mundividencia-esoterica.pdf (and an excellent bibliography)
Wonderful stuff SrMNA, very exciting indeed.
I will take anything you have got. I can speak Portuguese and my reading in Portuguese (although a little scratchy) is enough to cope with documents etc. I am also really interested in reading your summaries in English so please feel free to post what you will.
Thank you for the links you provided, I will be reading through them now.
Some interesting articles on Pessoa, some mentioning his relationship to Crowley. I find it amusing that Pessoa helped the Beast to pull off a fake suicide.