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A Review of “LIBER L. + vel BOGUS:

The Real Confession of Aleister Crowley”

by Richard T. Cole

There has been a lot of advance hype about this book and the bar of expectations has therefore been set correspondingly high – and I am sure there is no need to repeat any of it here, available as it all is. But someone taking the trouble to move beyond that and seizing both the initiative and the time to review the evidence of Liber + L. vel Bogus (hereafter referred to in short as Liber Bogus) will discover for themselves that there is actually much to justify (at least a fair proportion of) this hyperbole. For what Cole has succeeded in doing is to deductively draw together the strands of all of the separate occasions when one might have given the benefit of the doubt - or even what he describes as “a great deal of latitude” (p. 92) when considering loopholes - to any of the singular individual discrepancies which surround the ‘established’ circumstances concerning the entirety of what might be so-called the fictional ‘Aiwass reception’ story. And then, to come up with the equivalent (in the realm of physics) of a grand unified field theory and to establish working hypotheses for each known element and constituent of it, which he has also gone on to forensically analyse in some microscopic detail. (These discrepancies are largely summarised in the “Toxic Top 20” [albeit mistypographically counted as the Top Ten] rundown at the end.) Those are no mean achievements, and for that fact alone Liber Bogus should stand as an important and ground-breaking text – possibly even a firm underline drawn in the sand - and achieve an appropriate and justified longevity in the ongoing Crowley-related literary-magickal canon, and one which at the minimum would appear to call for a drastic reappraisal of the shadowy events surrounding the whole shebang.

The motivations of Cole, for anybody previously unaware of his ongoing interest and former appreciation of the life, career and works of Aleister Crowley, would appear on the surface and immediately to be iconoclastic and judge-mental, dragging the wrongdoer to heel and placing him squarely in the dock. At times, he does seem to take a certain non-impartial glee in the fact, although his enthusiastic predilection for this can, perhaps, be excused by the understandable excitement of finding himself in the happy position of having proposed a pioneering whodunnit, howhedunnit and where and when and whyhedunnit, in fairly exact detail according to the facts as are presently established. However the whyhedunnit seems to be more bashfully treated, for the following very good reason.

It is relatively easy to conceive of the rationale of a scheme by Crowley to set himself up for the next two thousand years as the long-awaited fresh Logos - “the new Jesus” and “essentially a successor to Jesus” (pp. 69, 192 et passim) as Cole slightly tabloidsishly declares it, by so doing neglecting Mohammed, Lao-Tzu and all the rest of the other half dozen co-Magi whom Crowley himself lists in his own The Heart Of The Master and elsewhere. It is far harder to comprehend why, having created such a conceit, Crowley should then proceed to comprehensively handcuff himself for the rest of his creative lifetime to a text which expressly forbad him to change even so much as “the style of a letter” – far less to revise the wording of entire whole verses. For someone with the evident desire and predilection to tinker and edit as much as Crowley did – with the pages of his personal copies of The Equinox and The Holy Book of Thelema being filled with pencilled-in annotations as an illustrative instance of this inclination – this self-imposed handicap must have been in the order of a lifelong rash he would be just itching to scratch. As well as Part VI of Chapter 7 of Genesis Libri AL which goes into this in some detail in his “I should not…” refrain, Crowley himself observed the same sentiments in his lengthy New Comment to The Book of the Law which, alone, itself took several years to write - a mini-essay on almost every verse except for the ‘troublesome’ ones of the notoriously perplexing Third Chapter, attributed to the to-all-appearances unpleasantly bloodthirsty hardline solar-martial Egyptian god of war and vengeance, Ra Hoor Khuit.

Yet, it would have been no great taxing burden of addition to have gone to the trouble of putting a simple arrangement into the text of Liber Legis something along the lines of: “my Prophet shall make no changes save those that comest to him in the fire & drunkenness of intoxication of the innermost sense of his profoundest rapture.” Sort of thing. Or whatever whiter words giving rise to that same effect. But nooo, for whatever reason he surprisingly did not think of adding in that extra lebensraum flexibility. That he should ‘religiously’ stick so enduringly to the handwritten text for over forty years – and furthermore succeed in adhering to it so totally – is, if nothing else, an astonishing testament to the ongoing duration and strength of his Willpower and determination – and one of the biggest question marks which can be raised against the viable validity of what might be called the Cole Deliberate Forgery Contention. (However although Cole raises plenty of questions for the “prosecution”, he neglects to ask or answer this one or similar. Maybe they will be found in the planned sequel/ Appendix,The Governing Dynamics of Thelema?)

According to this Cole Hypothesis the prime motivation, the nature of the catalyst for the composing of The Book of the Law in the first place, was twofold: primarily, it was to gradually (after a five or maybe even seven year period of gestation) set himself up as the new Christ on the block; and secondarily, to be instrumental in partly achieving this by ousting Mathers as (to use David Bersson’s picturesque phrase) “Frater Superior of the Entire World”, a feat involving the wholesale destruction of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – as an act of revenge pure and simple for the existential fact of being alive at all like everybody else (as rationalised in the section pithily entitled “Deicide – you decide”)*.

{* Incidentally, this leads on to the similarly inescapable fact that attempting to turn Crowley into a mainly psychological, if not psychopathic, head case somewhat places into question the actual extent of there being any particularly super-natural magick in the proceedings at all if the whole of the reception story was designed as some sort of a modern-day myth. But more fabricated than just that, more even than a sleight of hand or trompe l’œil: instead, a monumentally outrageous con trick played upon those of the whole human race with any beliefs in or feelings for the transcendental, mystical and noumenal! It also raises again a secondary subsidiary question of exactly how much of a fake altogether was Crowley? For assuredly, he has shown ‘form’ in this, and if he can fake claims for the ultimate (= as in messiahdom) stakes, he would surely not balk at anything smaller? For as well as no Aiwass, no received Book of the Law, etc, the humanistic conclusion the Cole line of thought seems to be leading towards is there are no Secret Chiefs, no ongoing neo-Egyptian pantheon and no otherworldly divine transmission of ideas either. Despite the fact that Crowley forsook conventional ceremonial for what he asserted was the revolutionary superior technique of sex magick, possibly as much as approximately eight years earlier than the date of his revelatory encounter with Reuss commonly conjectured, the most cursory glance at the record as shown in his diaries would prove that his success rate there was not in the least pronounced. And although in terms of the new once-in-two-thousand-years Equinox of the Gods Cole states “By his own admission, Crowley can only make the requisite Magickal Link on destruction of the now obsolete Golden Dawn” (p. 124), if magickal links do really exist it then ultimately appears to be difficult to say with any certain degree of conviction whether Crowley was successful in formulating this key paramount one as described, or not.

And yet… Cole is reluctant to follow that seemingly rather common-sensical meandering primrose path along to its terminally Dawkinsesque conclusion, as some in his position would, whether because of the baggage of his strongly held past belief system or something else. Although albeit in a slightly different context he may poetically write of “blind chance being mutated into alluring shadows” and “random coincidence being arranged into shapes of sublime intricacy as to fool the eyes into an uncanny illusion of form” (p.21), the juxtaposition of comparisons here is a valid one, and as with the trompe l’œil the eye will see whatever (patterns) it is predisposed to see. And this may include (in a given context) any attempts of researchers later on to tailor-fit the material to the theory and to sledgehammer home square pegs until as round nuts they reluctantly fit into their holes – forcibly squaring the circle thereby with whatever collateral damage to hand.}

While some may dismiss the at times irreverent semi-jokey non-scholarly approach whilst scoffing or taking umbrage at the occasional comically photoshopped cartoon, there can be little doubt that publication of Liber Bogus will have an explosive effect, although the magnitude of this is yet to be determined. It may just be a roman candle or an evanescent sparkler, brightly glowing but for a moment, or on the other hand it might as well be a prodigious nuclear device of considerable megatonnage and capable of carrying out widespread devastation, laying waste and mixmetaphorically wiping out with one stroke of the blackboard duster the whole edifice Crowley was at pains throughout his lifetime to construct (and which is now finally, ironically, only just beginning to show some signs of achieving long sought-after scholastic approval and credibility within the lofty hallowed halls and verdant groves and rolling hills of academe.)

However, in many ways it is at present premature to even attempt a review of a liber such as this which conspicuously declares itself to be but part of a wider work containing still further startling revelations of which it forms a prequel or subset – the scientologically entitled Governing Dynamics of Thelema (itself intended to be a lengthy “Appendix”) – and as such, as it almost as much forthrightly declares, is nothing more than a work in progress. Indeed, the author refers several times throughout the entire work to previous versions - earlier incarnations over the past two or three years which were superceded or abandoned - and can point as an indication of this to the ongoing conceptual schema of Liber Bogus in which, appropriately, nothing appears to remain fixed.

“To be continued…”

Abridged Review written by Norma И. ∫ºλ Conquest

(N.B.: The first edition appears to have already sold out within three weeks. Further details concerning a second (corrected) edition, and which is now available for £9.00, are obtainable from: )

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Thanks for the review, Jamie. Glad you managed to sort out the new account.

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