Aleister Crowley: The Beast in Berlin: Art, Sex, and Magick in the Weimar Repub.
Aleister Crowley: The Beast in Berlin: Art, Sex, and Magick in the Weimar Republic
A biographical history of Aleister Crowley’s activities in Berlin from 1930 to 1932 as Hitler was rising to power
• Examines Crowley’s focus on his art, his work as a spy for British Intelligence, his colorful love life and sex magick exploits, and his contacts with magical orders
• Explores Crowley’s relationships with Berlin’s artists, filmmakers, writers, and performers such as Christopher Isherwood, Jean Ross, and Aldous Huxley
• Recounts the fates of Crowley’s friends and colleagues under the Nazis as well as what happened to Crowley’s lost art exhibition
Gnostic poet, painter, writer, and magician Aleister Crowley arrived in Berlin on April 18, 1930. As prophet of his syncretic religion “Thelema,” he wanted to be among the leaders of art and thought, and Berlin, the liberated future-gazing metropolis, wanted him. There he would live, until his hurried departure on June 22, 1932, as Hitler was rapidly rising to power and the black curtain of intolerance came down upon the city.
Known to his friends affectionately as “The Beast,” Crowley saw the closing lights of Berlin’s artistic renaissance of the Weimar period when Berlin played host to many of the world’s most outstanding artists, writers, filmmakers, performers, composers, architects, philosophers, and scientists, including Albert Einstein, Bertolt Brecht, Ethel Mannin, Otto Dix, Aldous Huxley, Jean Ross, Christopher Isherwood, and many other luminaries of a glittering world soon to be trampled into the mud by the global bloodbath of World War II.
Drawing on previously unpublished letters and diary material by Crowley, Tobias Churton examines Crowley’s years in Berlin and his intense focus on his art, his work as a spy for British Intelligence, his colorful love life and sex magick exploits, and his contacts with German Theosophy, Freemasonry, and magical orders. He recounts the fates of Crowley’s colleagues under the Nazis as well as what happened to Crowley’s lost art exhibition--six crates of paintings left behind in Germany as the Gestapo was closing in. Revealing the real Crowley long hidden from the historical record, Churton presents “the Beast” anew in all his ambiguous and, for some, terrifying glory, at a blazing, seminal moment in the history of the world.
That sounds excellent! Very excellent! Thanks Paul. Pre-ordered...
Just did the very same thing myself Lutz!
This sounds awesome.
Its kind of sad that researchers are able to gain access to the diaries, type up completely new books and release them faster than the OTO can release the original diaries that these books are based on however...
pre-ordered this a few months ago and, having done a bit of research in this area myself, I am looking forward to Churton's interpretation of the materials.
Come on now, let's face it, You Guys would be enthusiastic about any new book on Crowley that was written by a half-decent author.
Doubtless there will be material of interest and worth in such a volume written by an academic author with access to original materials, but this is not exactly virgin territory.
To put my point in to context, I've just been reading Tobias Churton's 'ALEISTER CROWLEY: THE BIOGRAPHY' - I've put the title in Caps, because Churton clearly believes that it is THE biography. In my opinion it is "Aleister Crowley: The Supplementary Biography". There is new material in there, things that I was not aware of; information on AC's offspring, his many later, transient 'Scarlet Women' and a LOT of information and speculation on spying. But it's damn poor on the Magick; manages to add confusion to the events of the Cairo Working and is rather fond of the occasional gratuitous chapter ending. While it includes John Symond's 'The Great Beast' in its bibliography, Churton appears to ignore the later recensions, notably his 'The Beast 666' although the fact that he makes so much of Four Red Monks carrying a Black Goat across the Snows to Nowhere suggests that he is aware that Symonds includes it among the illustrations and makes a brief comment on it in the text of this, his final AC biography.
Symonds includes a much more detailed account of Crowley's meeting and dealings with the German O.T.O. membership in 1925 than is to be found in Churton's book and includes copious diary fragments of Crowley's from the Berlin period.
Doubtless there is more to be known in detail, but when it comes down to milking the most out of the life and times of Aleister Crowley, I think we should recognise that John Symonds would seem to have been superseded fully by Tobias Churton in this capacity.
Respectfully yours - Satan's Advocaat.
SA, i agree that some of your criticisms are valid. However, having briefly corresponded with Churton regarding this book (Hi Tobi!) I do believe that he has done original research and will bring new material to light. Whether it will change the accepted narrative is yet to be seen. However your characterization of us members of the AC Society as hopeless lactophiles has the ring of truth.
There seems to be a belief that all relevant material is found in AC's diaries. Concerning his Berlin period, however, there is a good chance that much may be unearthed by sifting through the collection of the Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz - the Secret State Archive of Prussian Cultural Possessions - as these seem to contain the archives of the lodges banned by the National Socialists in the late 1930s. Certainly Lechler found 150 boxes worth of materials whilst researching his superb Tränker-biography. We can only hope that Churton has done likewise. For that, of course, you not only need German, you also need to be able to read the handwriting of the period: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%BCtterlin
The history regarding German occultism up to the 1950s (and beyond) is based purely on hearsay, and is thus full of errors, which is why it is imperative to look into the archives. In the mean time that is a book I'm looking forward to!
Nice pic, William. Some cats are just so shameless. Miaow....
Thanks for the technical information, Markus. Don't have German unfortunately, had to do Latin instead when I was at school.
Oh yes, I was brushing up on my Sütterlin when I went to view the Nierendorf archives here in Berlin. Turned out I didn't need it though, as the archivist had already hired a specialist to transcribe Nierendorf's diaries of the period. Thought I had dodged a bullet - but it looks like I will have to get out my crib sheets again as I am heading down to the GSPK in the coming months. Where better to spend the cold, dark Berlin winter than rummaging through 150 cartons of illicit Freemasonry!
to follow up on this old thread - i have been slowly going through the GStA PK archives (Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz) and have some interesting materials - though nothing that changes the narrative as it is already known. But it makes for wonderful afternoons obsessing over correspondence & documentation. Unfortunately, taking photos is strictly forbidden so many of the tasty treats remain unknown... occasionally one can sneak a snap though...
Does anybody know if T.C. published those letters from Crowley to Vierick asking Hitler to accept the Liber Al as the new religion of the Third Reich?
i am unaware of such letters - do you have a reference? you might try Pasi's book as it is a detailed examination of Crowley's position regarding Thelema & the political regimes of his day.
Wasn’t it Martha Kuntzel during the 1920s who, on A.C.’s behalf, tried to get Hitler “to accept Liber AL as the new religion of the Third Reich”? Unless he petitioned more than one person to approach der Führer do this, which is quite possible…
Norma N Joy Conquest
Assuming T.C. stands for Thelema Lodge Calendar then you can see for yourself at:
Links to letters are at the bottom of the page.
Assuming T.C. stands for Thelema Lodge Calendar then you can see for yourself at:
Couldn't there be a remote possibility T.C. might also stand for "Tobias Churton"? ??? (Or even, "Top Cat" [as in, "he's the most"8)] ?)
yours not so cryptically,
Wasn’t it Martha Kuntzel during the 1920s who, on A.C.’s behalf, tried to get Hitler “to accept Liber AL as the new religion of the Third Reich”?
indeed, she just picked up the tele and dialed +1 800 der Fuehrer!
from Pasi's book...
They are in the archives in the Ransom Center archives.
What is the page number?
To my knowledge there is only one such letter at Harry Ransom. They have two, and the other one is from 1917. As far as I know TC did not publish it. Is there anything specific you want to know about or from that letter?
Yes, one letter, three pages written July 31st, 1936. Pretty massive omission I would think. Oh well...
I can't follow you exactly. You think there should be more letters to Viereck at Harry Ransom? Or the letter omits something? Or that the letter is omitted elsewhere? Or what does the "massive omission" refer to exactly?
Come for the confusion, and stay for the chaos.
You are right, there is only one letter from Crowley to Vierick regarding Liber AL and the Third Reich at the Ransom Center. Seems to me if Churton didn't quote or cite it reproduce it then a book on Crowley and Berlin is a glaring omission. It speaks directly to Crowley's then feelings about many relevant topics.
It makes sense though. Churton basically bent over and took everything Spence published as fact in his prior work.
Churton's book is about AC's time in Berlin (1930-1932). The NSDAP did not assume power until 1933. The letter to Viereck was written in 1936, after meeting Viereck during one of the latter's visits to London. By 1936, AC was back on Albion's silver shores. There seems no particular reason to include a letter written four years after the Berlin period in a book concerned explicitly with the Berlin period. While it may be difficult for some to fathom - there is more to Berlin than the twelve years between 1933 and 1945.
I know there is more to Berlin than the years 1933-1945. I just saw Motorhead play there at Max-Schmeling-Halle a few weeks ago.
oh, you were at that show? next time you're in town we should have lunch!
I'd like that. That city rocks.
one can tour the remaining AC locations in the city as well...