Jimmy Page, the Pre-Raphaelites and Aleister Crowley
Fascinating interview with Jimmy Page in the Financial Times, focusing on his cultural interests, including the Arts & Crafts movement, the Pre-Raphaelites and, in passing, Aleister Crowley:
[i[He is also elusive when I raise the subject of occultism, a topic that fascinated the Victorians — and with which Page has long been associated.
“Really?” he says mildly. Despite being the former owner of an occult bookshop called Equinox and the Scottish manor house that belonged to the notorious magus Aleister Crowley, he looks bemused at the notion that anyone might take him to be a serious student of the paranormal. I venture to ask whether the 19th-century tradition of spiritualism is attractive to him.
“Yes, I think it would be,” he replies. “But I can’t time-travel so you can only . . . ” His voice trails away. “It’s pretty evocative.”
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He is also elusive when I raise the subject of occultism, a topic that fascinated the Victorians — and with which Page has long been associated.
“Really?” he says mildly. Despite being the former owner of an occult bookshop called Equinox and the Scottish manor house that belonged to the notorious magus Aleister Crowley, he looks bemused at the notion that anyone might take him to be a serious student of the paranormal. [...]
I’m not sure what is to be gained by Mr Page’s apparent coyness here. Even if he might possibly enjoy toying with the media, wouldn’t it be in the best interests for the propagation of Thelema for him not to seem quite so fey, bemused & retiring about it when – even if not declining to act as an actual publick spokesman or authority – he can at least appear not to damn it with faint praise, a sort of elusive unseriousness or feigned nonchalance. (One gets the feeling that in the next article one reads he’s going to say something along the lines of “Aleister who?”...)
If J.P. imagines he’s a Hermit (as the relevant Song Remains The Same film sequence indicates) perhaps he’s taking the identification a bit too far along traditional lines? Maybe temporarily forgetting that in the New Aeon, it’s the paradoxically opposite case in that Hermits are meant to be fully involved in the nitty gritty of the real world. He is fortunately in a materialistically very fortunate $ituation, and at a time of his £ife (more so now probably than €ver before), when he is relatively unassailable, impervious and untouchable (and can also incidentally employ the finest lawyers which money can buy).
As a result, there is not any real reason (that I am aware anyway) why he can’t give A.C. and his ideas and legacy some good press and some intelligent PR copy, for a change. After all, it could do with some, and he (J.P.) is virtually immune from persecution - and almost from negative criticism itself - after a career of maximum attention & ammunition taken from sex and drugs and rock and roll, in which he has also unquestionably proved his aesthetic & artistic sensibilities, songwriting abilities, musical genius and production skills (notably, particularly, whilst with L.Z.)
Conversely, not many of “us” are in a position from which we are able to freely declare the law of, and adherence to, the principles of this philosophy in quite the same unrestrained sort of way. So it’s all the more wasteful of the opportunities presented when someone who is, doesn’t seem able to take full advantage of the benefits and advantages which circumstances have dealt them.
In The Light… in the Blues & in between the shutters of the LIL ;D,
Norma N Joy Conquest
Jimmy Page has mellowed over time and did perhaps close a chapter in his life when he disposed of Boleskine in 1992 after restoring it - he owned the Beast's Scottish residence for over 20 years - though he never lived there. His old friend Malcolm Dent was the caretaker, reportedly for a weekly wage and only left when Page sold the property. Dent passed away in 2011
Page also owned and ran the Equinox Booksellers and Publishers in Holland Street, Kensington for many years, this was a source of many old occult books and other Crowley memorabilia for him. As far as I am aware, Jimmy Page is not on record as having accepted Liber Al, neither has he ever declared himself a Thelemite, but his music and life have clearly been influenced by the Beast and his writings.
Jimmy Page has collected much Crowleyana over the years, possibly for investment purposes - but has also collected Pre-Raphaelite art and this was the gist of the very good FT Magazine article.
He was offered, and accepted, an OBE in 2005 - suprisingly not for his contribution to music but for his charitable work with poor Brazilian children. The offer of this honour signifies recognition of this work by the Establishment and as such perhaps explains his reticence in later years, when challenged over his well documented interest in the arcane.
Jimmy Page and Led Zep's music formed the soundtrack to much of my lost youth and innocence and gave much pleasure to myself and many others of my generation. I look forward to hearing the man play live again one day, I would travel a long way to be there!
An intelligent and well-balanced point of view there, frater_anubis. Jimmy Page clearly has a wide range of interests and is (not unreasonably) concerned about being considered a 'Crowleyite'. As someone given that label it's a concern I fully understand!
As an aside, he's not been averse to linking himself to the works of AC, having permitted many of his AC artworks to be exhibited, using '93' as the basis of his autograph, signing Christmas cards as 'Thelemically Yours' (see the Galleries here) and even featuring his visit to the Stele of Revealing' on his website. As you mention, his publication of 'The Goetia' through 'Equinox' didn't appear to be an attempt to run away from association with AC.
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Thanks for your measured appraisal of the matter there Paul and Johnny. I don’t think anybody was suggesting, or would suggest (certainly not I) that J.P. declare he is a ‘Crowleyite’. For one thing, it would be hard to discern what was meant by anyone using that label – ditto with ‘Crowleyanity’. But I can’t see it would particularly adverse his (J.P.’s) position to come out with something less ambivalent and more along the lines of ‘Yes, I am a Thelemite – what of it?’ since, as I mentioned, the position he occupies is a lot more invulnerable than 99% of everyone else’s on this forum at least.
As expressed above, one particular perception of J.P. which could just as well come across would be that of his merely being an uncommitted dilettante, principally interested in collecting Crowleyana memorabilia (paintings, walking sticks, etc) and the investment opportunities therein. But against this, considering his first public magickal declaration was the Gesture of arranging to have DO WHAT THOU WILT engraved in capital letters on the run-off groove to Led Zeppelin III (as well as the other instances given), there would clearly appear to be more to it than simply that. However after four and a half decades, it still remains unclear just how much more.
A.C., to a large extent as a result of his own doing, left his public image in an unenviable position when it comes to anybody trying to put matters right and forward him or his legacy in a more positive light. It raises the question of how many ordinary people would be in a similar position to be able to stand up, stick their heads above the parapet and declare in favour of the message of Thelema and by extension the writings of the Prophet, and the answer is: not many. Unfortunately, there are not many people in the public eye who are both invulnerable, taken reasonably seriously & in a position to advantageously ‘spread the word’ to influence others, either. A while back there was the instance given of Peaches Geldof coming out through her Twitter feed in favour, and reaching thousands of her ‘followers’ thereby. It’s similarly a pity that someone else like for example Lady Gaga is not more into magick, who would be able to influence literally millions more to enquire closer into the matter. She would maybe curry more influence amongst teenagers and fans of her own age, whereas the appeal of J.P. is more universal and based across a broader spectrum.
Jimmy has Scorpio rising and moon in the eighth house in Cancer. A very private man. I wouldn't expect him to any more forthcoming anytime soon. Didn't he just release a picture book with very little text or stories? Exactly.
But given his history with Crowley collections and owning Boleskine and the Equinox bookstore and working with Kenneth Anger etc it's safe to say he's neck deep in Crowleyanity.
It's natural to want someone so prominent to give Thelema a "shout-out" but he does do this from time to time in his own way. (Remember "the slaves shall serve" line at his live press interviews recently?) He's done a hell of a lot for Thelema and his understatement seems to draw people in just like it did with Led Zeppelin.
The press seems to accept his Crowley associations without calling him names (Satanist for example) and he holds a certain dignity and stature that is definitely good for Thelema.
Great article otherwise. It appears the context of the interview was to be about art and art history and such so he may have been a little gun shy wondering if he lets the interviewer go in this direction the next questions going to be about groupies or drugs or a veer in that direction?
Now more than ever it's so easy to be misquoted or have a simple sentence in an interview become tabloid fodder ad infinitum.
Speaking with some very fringe personal experience of Jimmy Page, he really has a very wide variety of such interests. Crowley may not be his chief esoteric interest nor the one he deems the most essential to his art and personality. He collects a great deal of books and art, he has collections of other material that rival, if not exceed, his Crowley materials.
Equally, as many will attest, esoteric interests tend to ebb and flow, what was once a very big deal can seem less important ten or twenty years later when you move on to a different area.
Yes, elitemachinery and Von Zos, you have both made some good points.
J.P. has now himself reached the time of his life when he is accorded a measure of fairly universal respect in the media – though I think ‘national treasure’ might be taking it a bit far, in that direction – to the degree that, at least references to him are not these days prefixed with “the S*tanist Jimmy Page” (whilst although maybe still referred to as “Jimmy Page, a student of the Stan-ist Aleister Crowley).
I think what I was trying to say, whilst taking on board & agreeing with the comments made above, was that it’s a shame more people in J.P.’s position – and there are few enough – don’t grasp the opportunity to try and correct the negative impression with which A.C. has managed to have been accorded. Peaches Geldof was neither a national treasure nor had wholly transcended the image of being a spoilt young rich kid – but at least she seemed fairly sincere in having a go, and all credit to her memory for having done so.