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christibrany
(@christibrany)
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Joined: 11 years ago
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04/02/2010 5:49 pm  

Good day all!
I just finished reading a nice concise yet still interesting biography of the old boy, called "The Magical World of Aleister Crowley" by Francis King. I highly recommend it. It was especially nice to hear about his colleagues and friends in fraternus saturni and also some blurbs on kenneth grant and germer et al.

My other reason for posting here besides recommending that, is with a question.
In terms of biographies (i am about to read his autobiography or auto-hagiography as he calls it published by hill and wang which will be fun) ,

do people find that out of the revised version by John Symonds "Beast 666" and "Perdurabo" by Richard Kaczynski, one is definitely better in terms of detail and information than another?

I definitely want to buy or read one of the two but I wanted a reccomendation of one over the other if anyone has an opinion based on their readings I would be most honoured (_ _ );

The main things I am looking for besides just detail of personal life and actions, is the last part of crowleys life, from approximately 1935 to 1947.
In the book I just finished, everything was in depth generally speaking, except when he got to that period I onticed there was pitifully few sources and less data written about.

Thanks so much!


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Walterfive
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04/02/2010 6:01 pm  

"Perdurabo" is much better than the Symonds bio. Also good is Sutin's Crowley Bio "Do What Thou Wilt: A Life Of Aleister Crowley", and last year's "Secret Agent 666" while over-glamorously titled, is cause enough for *every* Crowley biography written before it to get a serious revision, as it appears that for a good portion of his life, Crowley truely was some sort of Intelligence Operative (although not a 'Secret Agent' in the James Bond sense).


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christibrany
(@christibrany)
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05/02/2010 5:38 pm  

thanks so much for your input!

i will attempt to track down perdurabo when i have some book money. as i have been purchasing books to much the past half-year i think i must force myself to wait until at least summer. that's harder than it sounds for some people. 😉

i had that 'secret agent' one on my list but i had forgotten about it completely. i hadnt bought it when i saw it because i thought it was too overpriced for such a thin paperback. but then again my value judgements have always been odd. i'm sure you can tell hehe

but thats what makes me so 'special'

i thought maybe with symonds revising his bio of crowley that it would get better and less vitriolic (so I hear) but I guess not .too bad.

thanks again!


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Walterfive
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05/02/2010 6:18 pm  

You can get used copies of most of these books suprisingly cheaply through Amazon.com, but always remember to factor the price of postage in-- a 3 dollar book doesn't cost 3 dollars when it's got a $2.99 shipping charge...

Perdurabo is being reprinted as "Perdurabo- Revised and Expanded". The new edition comes out later this year with much more material. You can pre-order a harback copy for 19.77 on Amazon and save yourself $10.00. The 1st edition is pretty expensive at $50.00, so you might want to get the reprint. Order it by credit or debit card now, and Amazon won't charge you until it's shipped.


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christibrany
(@christibrany)
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05/02/2010 7:06 pm  

wow thats a really good deal for a new hardback these days. thanks again for the heads up!

i still love seeing your review of 'mauve zone' by grant on Amazon. i agree those prices are inane and insane. the people listing them at that even more so. especially when they are more interested in keeping their listing at that price than selling their book. *shrug*
i will pre order that book i think.

did secret agent 666 have much new info, compared to 'confessions' and 'magical world' by king, and 'perdurabo'?

I always thought he was constantly turned down by the government as per his own statements in "legend of AC" like he wanted to help but no one would have him, so he acted on his own on the pro german paper. Sadly most people were too ignorant to understand his attempt at sarcasm. But its kind of heartening to find people arent really getting that much stupider, they've always been dumb 🙂


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Walterfive
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05/02/2010 8:53 pm  

Ha! You liked that? Greed-heads. Somewhere, there must be a book, "How To Sell On Amazon" that reccomends that if you have a thing for sale, and nobody else is selling it, you should list it for 10X it's actual worth because of the item's scarcity. I wouldn't pay $1,200 for any book, unless I was looking at a signed Crowley rarity. Regardie's autograph isn't worth that much, neither is Achad's. And I *certainly* wouldn't pay it for an unsigned 1st Ed. of "Beyond The Mauve Zone." But I'll pay $200 for one when Mr. Staley puts out the signed, numbered, box edition next year (or whenever he gets around to it).

Secret Agent 666 had an immense amount of new information, and presents a reader of Crowley biographies new ways of looking at old information. When one realizes that Crowley was an intelligence operative, and may have been gathering intelligence on various individuals and groups during his journeys, (in some cases he certainly was) many seemingly obscure choices and motivations have chance at explanation. A lot of that book is supposition on the writer's behalf, but the facts that he bases those suppositions on are quite interesting and reavealing in their own right, even if one doesn't always agree with where the author tries to go with them.


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 Anonymous
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06/02/2010 9:42 am  

I have to agree with previous posts. 'Perdurabo' is defintely the best and most complete of all the biographies and written by a practising magician who understands the deeper aspects of Crowley and his magick rather than just focusing on the more sensational aspects of A.C.'s life or trying to psychoanalyze him. 'Secret Agent 666' is a really important addition to the biographical material and I'd add to that the reprint of 'The Legend of Aleister Crowley' originally written by A.C.'s friend and publisher PR Stephensen, the owner of Mandrake Press. Stephensen wrote 'The Legend...' in response to the vilification directed at Crowley by the English gutter press in the 1930's when he was going through a number of legal battles. Along with 'Secret Agent' it gets to the heart of why Crowley was branded 'the wickedest man in the world' and the whole smear campaign that was directed against him. The reprint has a lot of additional material and research and I believe it's available from Weiser Antiquarian in the US


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 Anonymous
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06/02/2010 5:01 pm  
"christibrany" wrote:

do people find that out of the revised version by John Symonds "Beast 666" and "Perdurabo" by Richard Kaczynski, one is definitely better in terms of detail and information than another?

I happened to be watching the film 'In Search of the Great Beast 666' (2007 Classic Picture Productions) last night and, along with rekindling my deep-seated ire for John Symonds - Crowley's literary executioner and most prominent early biographer - it reminded me that all subsequent attempts at Crowley bios are attempts to undue the damage done by Symonds' willingness to sabotage Crowley's legacy in the name of making a little money for himself by peppering his pages with outright lies from the popular press of the time, obvious personal bias against Crowley and salacious superfluities. I would definitely recommend that Symonds' work be read, but that it be read last rather than first on the list of available bios on Crowley. This will demonstrate quite clearly what Symonds personal agenda was, and what a total asshole this man was. (My opinion only, as always.)


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Patriarch156
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06/02/2010 5:42 pm  
"Camlion" wrote:
I happened to be watching the film 'In Search of the Great Beast 666' (2007 Classic Picture Productions) last night and, along with rekindling my deep-seated ire for John Symonds - Crowley's literary executioner and most prominent early biographer - it reminded me that all subsequent attempts at Crowley bios are attempts to undue the damage done by Symonds' willingness to sabotage Crowley's legacy in the name of making a little money for himself by peppering his pages with outright lies from the popular press of the time, obvious personal bias against Crowley and salacious superfluities. I would definitely recommend that Symonds' work be read, but that it be read last rather than first on the list of available bios on Crowley. This will demonstrate quite clearly what Symonds personal agenda was, and what a total asshole this man was. (My opinion only, as always.)

While I agree that the biography that Symonds wrote (and rewrote through its many iterations) are not sympathetic, I am unaware of any deliberate lies presented by him. That being said it has been a long time since I reread any of them, so correct me if I am wrong.

I do hope however that as Thelemites we are able to acknowledge Crowley's many failings and that just because people for whatever reason remain unsympathetic to his indeavours and focus on his failings, it does not mean they are out to get Crowley in any way.

If symonds deliberately wanted to destroy Crowley's reputation there were far worse things he could have mentioned but which he for reasons unknown to me he chose not to. At least he did not write a blatant error which has been subsequently perpetuated in Norwegian tomes such as Grant's claim that Crowley's fifth degree initiation ritual of the O.T.O. involved baptising and crucifying a toad.


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 Anonymous
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06/02/2010 6:07 pm  

Francis King's bio of 666 was the first I ever read & I think its a good starting point-the last version of Symonds' GREAT BEAST (now titled simply 666-Pindar Press) is still intensely negative but has the advantage of Symonds access to unpublished 666 writings (plus some nice b/w & color photos & reproductions of some of AC's wonderful paintings). If you can afford it I'd say it's worth owning-just remember that it's VERY antithetical in its views of 666 & occultism generally. I'm anxiously awaiting the revised edition of PERDURABO!


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 Anonymous
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06/02/2010 6:46 pm  

93 Patriarch156,

Time permitting, I will dig that 'gem' out and share some examples. However, I do believe that Symonds legitimized the tone for much of the negative emphasis that followed. His bona fides were granted him by way of Crowley's implied trust, and I believe that he betrayed that trust. A better man would have either risen above his personal bias or declined to participate. Yes, of course, it was initially Crowley himself who set the tone, trading on negative notoriety to perpetuate public awareness of himself, as many celebrities still do today with mixed results - 'dealing with the devil,' as it were - and to a certain extent Crowley did manage to avoid obscurity thereby. However, Symonds could not even manage impartiality, and that is to be expected of a legitimate biographer, imo. Actual sympathy is not even to be expected, but some semblance of impartiality is. Yes, Symonds did also aid in perpetuating public awareness of Crowley by his publication efforts with hacked up writings by Crowley, but I believe that this was a collateral benefit of Symonds trying to make windfall profits at the expense of Crowley's trust, something that would not have been the key motivation of an editor who saw any true potential value at all to the readership of the works of the author. And yes, he could easily have done even greater damage to Crowley's reputation, but that might have killed his golden egg laying goose outright.

As you can see, I did not care for Mr. Symonds very much at all. 🙂


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 Anonymous
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06/02/2010 9:10 pm  

I'm pretty much in agreement with Camlion and xtianzombie regarding the Symond's bio of AC. I got the impression that JS was very jealous of the Beast.


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Michael Staley
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06/02/2010 11:48 pm  

I too don't care for the tone of Symonds' biographies - his hostility towards his subject is very apparent. However, I think that Symonds did genuinely disappove of Crowley, and as a writer he was jealous that someone he thought so disreputable was so much better a writer than he. However, I agree with Patriach156 that Symonds did not have an agenda to destroy Crowley's legacy, but was painting a picture of Crowley as he thought he was.

What I do take exception to, however, is the description of Symonds as a "total asshole" because he produced a number of unfavourable biographies of Crowley. A friend of mine knew Symonds for many years; knowing my friend as I do, he would not have regarded a "total asshole" as a good friend.

Whether you like it or not, the fact is that books by Symonds and others preserved interest in Crowley during the lean times of the 1950s and early 1960s, to flower in the more propitious times of the middle 1960s. Yes, Symonds' boigraphies irritated me with their derogatory tone, but it wasn't difficult to recognise the tone for what it was and discount it.

Best wishes,

Michael.


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lashtal
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07/02/2010 2:03 am  

And just for the record, I'd agree that "total asshole" is not a fair summary of the man. "The Beast 666" is a remarkable achievement which, until the arrival of "Perdurabo", was the best biography of AC available.

Owner and Editor
LAShTAL


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 Anonymous
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07/02/2010 5:01 am  

Partial asshole? 😉


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 Anonymous
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07/02/2010 5:06 am  

No, seriously, there are a number of professions wherein the client is deceased at the time that services are rendered, and these services are to be rendered with a certain degree of respect and honor, regardless of the professional's personal opinion of the deceased.


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michaelclarke18
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07/02/2010 9:53 am  

"Perdurabo" by Richard Kaczynski

Would get my vote as the definitive Crowley biography. The level of detail is absolutely fantastic, and the author clearly spares himself no pain in locating new bits of information. If I could only choose a single biography of Crowley, I would choose this.

"total asshole"

I totally disagree with the above comment about Symonds. Although not a follower of Crowley, his books give great historical context to the kind of world that Crowley lived in - especially how Crowley was regarded by contemporary society.

The world that Crowley inhabited is very, very different from today's; this fact tends to be completely overlooked, and one gets a real flavour of these times from Symonds books.


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 Anonymous
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07/02/2010 6:05 pm  
"michaelclarke18" wrote:

"total asshole"

I totally disagree with the above comment about Symonds.

As I never knew Mr. Symonds personally, (although I've often wished that I had), I was careless in my use of the word "total."


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christibrany
(@christibrany)
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08/02/2010 2:43 am  

thank you kindly to everyone who has proposed a reccomendation or opinion on these biographies.

i just read a post here that made me q rious
about crowley not crucifying a toad.

I just finished F. King's 'magical world of AC' biography and he mentions AC crucifying the toad as a fact, is it an error on his part to write this too?

the book was published in the 70s.
it matters nought to me if he did or not (crowley) but it is very interesting as far as providing character insight.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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08/02/2010 5:02 am  

My favorite biography ( though, I haven't read them all ) was Sutin's Do What Thou Wilt : A Life of Aliester Crowley.

If you want to read a Biography by a total ass hole, then I would recomend The Secret of Aliester Crowley by Robert North.

http://www.lulu.com/items/volume_51/779000/779618/3/print/The_Secret_of_Aleister_Crowley.pdf


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Michael Staley
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08/02/2010 8:45 am  
"christibrany" wrote:
I just finished F. King's 'magical world of AC' biography and he mentions AC crucifying the toad as a fact, is it an error on his part to write this too?

Unfortunately it's true. Crowley did consider it necessary to crucify a toad in connection with his assumption of the grade Magus.

Best wishes,

Michael.


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Patriarch156
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08/02/2010 12:00 pm  
"christibrany" wrote:
thank you kindly to everyone who has proposed a reccomendation or opinion on these biographies.

i just read a post here that made me q rious
about crowley not crucifying a toad.

I just finished F. King's 'magical world of AC' biography and he mentions AC crucifying the toad as a fact, is it an error on his part to write this too?

the book was published in the 70s.
it matters nought to me if he did or not (crowley) but it is very interesting as far as providing character insight.

As Michael Staley points out that is an actual true story and King reports it truthfully. This is also reported truthfully in Symonds biography.

What is not true however is that Crowley wrote the fifth degree iniitiation ritual of the O.T.O. so that the candidate has to cruicify a toad.

As a final note I obviously agree that Symonds bias is very much apparent and I would never call him a balanced biographer. I do not however think that this necessitates inventing conspiracy theories: it probably relfected just his view on the subject matter. What is more important however is the fact that as far as I know his biography contains no deliberate falsehood.


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alysa
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08/02/2010 12:31 pm  

I have read symonds' "Aleister Crowley, The King of the Shadow Realm" and must say as for facts it is a good biography, ofcourse it is overfull with Symonds' bias, but I accept that as Symonds was just like Crowley a child of his time, and so it's part of his nature and education. I think Symonds was an honorable man, and also think he wasn't jealous of the Beast, why should he, for writing talents, I don't know.


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Walterfive
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08/02/2010 2:05 pm  
"MichaelStaley" wrote:
"christibrany" wrote:
I just finished F. King's 'magical world of AC' biography and he mentions AC crucifying the toad as a fact, is it an error on his part to write this too?

Unfortunately it's true. Crowley did consider it necessary to crucify a toad in connection with his assumption of the grade Magus.

No, Patriarch 156, not the V'. This was also found in an unpublished draft for the VII' Ritual of the O.T.O. according to a Bishop of my accquaintance. I'm not sure if he saw it in the Grand Lodge archives, or the Ransom collection in Austin, but it was in one or the other. However, it does not appear to have *ever* have been incorporated.


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Patriarch156
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08/02/2010 2:56 pm  
"Walterfive" wrote:
"MichaelStaley" wrote:
"christibrany" wrote:
I just finished F. King's 'magical world of AC' biography and he mentions AC crucifying the toad as a fact, is it an error on his part to write this too?

Unfortunately it's true. Crowley did consider it necessary to crucify a toad in connection with his assumption of the grade Magus.

No, Patriarch 156, not the V'. This was also found in an unpublished draft for the VII' Ritual of the O.T.O. according to a Bishop of my accquaintance. I'm not sure if he saw it in the Grand Lodge archives, or the Ransom collection in Austin, but it was in one or the other. However, it does not appear to have *ever* have been incorporated.

Actually your Bishop if he told you that is in error. It has never been part of any iniiation ritual of the O.T.O. The only surviving manuscript for the seventh degree in Crowley's hand remains in his diary and mentions no such act.

What exists however is a small note on Crowleys manuscript for LXX that reads: ""This Book is to be given to any Knight Companion of the Sacrosanct Order of Kadosch VI' who has given evidence of his capacity for it to a Brother already possessing it by personal examination only, such exmaniation to extend continuously over eleven [manuscript breaks off]".

So in summary, yes A.C. wrote such a ritual and he performed it himself and even toyed with the idea of making it an instruction for certain select members of the VIth degree. It was not however at any point part of any initiation ceremony in the Order.


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Walterfive
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08/02/2010 5:12 pm  

Ah, to be given to the VI' not the VII'. Thank you for that clarification. 🙂 It might have been his mistake, or my memory. Yes, that's essentially what I was told. He'd discussed the matter with Grand Lodge (before it became International Grand Lodge,) after an article in "Gnosis" magazine (IIRC) made obscure reference to animal sacrifice in O.T.O. ritual. Must have been well over a decade ago...


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Michael Staley
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08/02/2010 5:52 pm  

I had thought that the act was solely in connection with his assumtion of the grade of Magus. Well, thank God he never went beyong "toying" with the idea of incorporating this squalid, sadistic act into an instruction for "certain select members".

Best wishes,

Michael.


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phthah
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08/02/2010 6:54 pm  

93,

"lashtal" wrote:
And just for the record, I'd agree that "total asshole" is not a fair summary of the man. "The Beast 666" is a remarkable achievement which, until the arrival of "Perdurabo", was the best biography of AC available.

I agree that "The Beast 666" was probably the best biography prior to "Perdurabo" and in past years have even recommended it when asked the "which biography to read" question. However, to say that it was a "remarkable achievement" is a bit of a stretch, IMO. Maybe in the sense that he was able to produce a book about a subject that he knew nothing about! Basically he was given everything that he needed to write the book and even had help from Wilkinson and Yorke. Here was Germer's take on it from a letter published by Motta:

"Let me start by saying that John Symonds, the author of The Great Beast, is a young man, a newspaper reporter, who happened to be introduced to the Master Therion about one year before he died, and who agreed to write a sort of book on a subject of which he had never heard in his life. But he had access to all of Crowley's papers, had the help of two men in London who knew something of the subject. They helped Symonds to sort the papers, and gave him a little understanding in his utter bewilderment and confusion of thought. He expected to write a sensational book, with some suggestions by the publisher to make it more so. Still, factually and historically, it is well documented. He did much historical research work. One can say, he studied the man Crowley; but he has no idea of what "The Beast" is, or means."

I think that's a fair assessment.

93 93/93
phthah


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Horemakhet
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09/02/2010 12:55 pm  

Of interest to some people here might be PR Stephensen's 'The Legend Of Aleister Crowley', which was written during AC's lifetime:

"Stephensen would describe The Legend of Aleister Crowley as both a “short literary biography” and “a study of the documentary evidence relating to a campaign of personal vilification unparalleled in literary history.” "

"The Legend of Aleister Crowley has long been out of print. This new edition makes available an important if often overlooked book — the only biography written during Crowley’s life that addressed his character and the press campaigns against him."

- http://www.lashtal.com/nuke/Article997.phtml

It has been years since I read it, but it is unique & worthwhile because of the circumstances behind it's publication, & the year (1930).

I have an older edition of it than the latest advertised above. The additions for the new release are tempting...


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lashtal
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09/02/2010 1:51 pm  

It's a splendid piece of work, well worth the investment.

Owner and Editor
LAShTAL


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 Anonymous
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09/02/2010 6:14 pm  
"lashtal" wrote:
It's a splendid piece of work, well worth the investment.

A very nice one. I got the Llewellyn edition in 1970 with intro by Regardie. A welcome relief.


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frater_anubis
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09/02/2010 8:15 pm  

Symonds biography was the first book about AC that I read and it did have a huge impact. So much that i'm still fascinated by the man, his life and times. The fact that Symonds was unimpressed by AC's character came through clearly (in a Symonds obituary that I read, published last year, it was stated that Symonds thought he was "a very evil man") Whether this was over the toad being crucified i'm unsure, or whether it was other incidents that upset him. Symonds was more sympathetic to Leah Hirsig and was obviously moved by her eventual fate.

I personally think that Symonds had little knowledge or understanding of the Great Work and the strain that it put on AC. But for a long time it was the only book on the man that was available. I do think his sketch of AC on meeting him at Netherwood for the first time and subsequent visits was a very good description and painted a colourfull and somewhat amusing picture of the man.

I personally don't have a problem with the toad being crucified, it was the fact that AC baptised it first that always bothered me...

Johnny


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jdes
 jdes
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09/02/2010 8:53 pm  

Has anyone read Symond's The Lady with the Magic Eyes: Madame Blavatsky, Medium and Magician? How does it compare with his Great Beast? Is it, for example, written in the same slightly-mocking tone or does he approach Blavatsky in a different way?


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Horemakhet
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09/02/2010 9:00 pm  

. . I love the poetry that AC evolved around the toad. This was a man who had gone 'big game hunting'; he took a toad for symbolic reasons. I am glad that he did that, & not I, & I am also glad that he did not ask those who learn from him to do it. - I have met toads, & I like them. I could never kill a creature like that, nor "crucify" & torture them...


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michaelclarke18
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09/02/2010 9:20 pm  

It seems that frogs & toads have always suffered during mans various enquiries into the occult; as one should not forget Chumbley's 'The Grimoire of The Golden Toad'.
Though to be fair to Chumbly, I'm not sure the rite was intended to be literal, more a metaphor for transformation. Though, it should be stated, several private editions of Chumbley's book actually incorporate parts of a real toad - and some other editions of the book were sold with a toad bone and toad skin talisman.....


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Horemakhet
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09/02/2010 9:43 pm  

A frog is another thing altogether. Yes, they have had a difficult time with Witchcraft, & Culinarists; but the Toads did not have to watch out for crucifiction until Crowley had a lightbulb. Lick a Toad, dont crucify it man.


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christibrany
(@christibrany)
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10/02/2010 6:29 pm  

I just wanted to say I also really enjoyed "The Legend of Aleister Crowley"

A funny thing is although I would say it was written by P.R. Stephenson and perhaps compiled or edited by Israel Regardie (because of the material) I would feign to state it was authored by Regardie.

Especially by him alone. I state that because on the version I checked out from my university library (yay free alumni library cards) the spine just says REGARDIE which kind of made me mad cuz its not like he wrote it.

oh well...
that said i think it is a very good book and i learned a lot about AC's poetry and early life that is often glossed over on account it is not as outwardly spiritual or magical as his later work. but definitely a good read.


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