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Crowley & Thelemic Current as creative source/inspiratio


 Anonymous
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Hello all,

I want to ask opinions about the influence and inspiration of Crowley and Thelema in the creative world. Specifically why so many creative artists are drawn to Crowley and his works, and what effect Crowley has had on the development of the creative arts in the last 100 years?

In every facet of artistic practice (dance, music, theater, literature, painting, film) since Crolweys early writings it seems there has always been a contingent of individuals drawn to Crowley and his work as a source of inspiration and creativity. In the 21st century the list of artists inspired by Crowley and Thelema is enormous.

Why?

And in a second bit I wonder about the contrast between Crowley's 'Beast" persona and the dark imagery surrounding him (drug use, open sexuality, etc) versus the enlightened intellectual who spoke of Yoga, eastern thought, and would provide the outline of Thelemic ideals. How has this contrast played into his role as a source of creative inspiration? Did it help or hinder the role he plays as muse to so many artists in the past century?

Strong personal opinions welcome but please keep it civil.


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lashtal
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A fascinating first post, creatcher, and one that reaches deep into the heart of the function of LAShTAL.COM.

I'm especially intrigued by your second point. Historically, of course, Crowley's dark public image has been used in a rather shallow way: it seems that no death metal band can survive more than a couple of albums without `at least some mention of AC. Perhaps a lot more interesting is his prominence in "apocalyptic folk" music, such as Current 93 and the early Psychic TV products, where an altogether more thoughtful aspect is involved.

Crowley features as the quintessential baddie in many horror films, Mocata and the like, but the current crop of references, for example in "Chemical Wedding", play with his public persona to greater effect. That very movie starts with a fairly convincing but traditional portrayal of Crowley by the very scary John Shrapnel, only to follow it with a much lighter version, erudite and camp, by the equally excellent Simon Callow, which focuses on his intellectualism.

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Raven
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For me Freudian theory has some answers even if they are largely seen as only historically valid by modern psychology. Freud outlined the fundamentally emotional and primitive drives both creative and destructive - Libido and Thanatos. For me the creative process taps deep into the unconscious for the creative but which also releases elements of the destructive even if those elements are repressed by the artist.
I think that all artists are aware, at least unconsciously, of this and the direct relationship between creative and destructive drives with neither able to exist without or in isolation to the other.
However, Crowley certainly seemed to overcome the influence to repress and lived his life almost like a performance, a living art fully embracing the creative and destructive. I think many artists sense the power in expressing this way, are envious of that full expression and also feel some resonance with the symbolic nature and expression of Magick as both a potentially creative and destructive force and an expressive art in itself.

However, I also believe that Crowley's position as a cultural icon has shifted as the use of references to him become an automatic sub cultural norm that doesnt really understand or acknowledge the complexity, contradiction and paradox in his life and work.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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"creatcher" wrote:
what effect Crowley has had on the development of the creative arts in the last 100 years?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2004/jul/10/society


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lashtal
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You beat me to it!

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 Anonymous
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"lashtal" wrote:
it seems that no death metal band can survive more than a couple of albums without `at least some mention of AC. Perhaps a lot more interesting is his prominence in "apocalyptic folk" music, such as Current 93 and the early Psychic TV products, where an altogether more thoughtful aspect is involved.
quote]

I would say this was more true of "Black Metal" bands rather than Death metal ones, but you would be right to suggest that it was a merely superficial interest for these artists. Only yesterday I was arguing on youtube over the meaning of "APO PANTOS KAKODAIMONOS" which is the opening line of a track by "Blackened death metal" band Behemoth. People simply wouldn't have it that it meant "away every evil spirit" because to them that simply didn't sound evil or unpleasant enough. I love extreme music such as Death metal, Black metal and grindcore ( I also love most forms of Jazz and Classical as well as stuff like Billy Holiday and Nina Simone so I suppose I have pretty diverse musical tastes lol) but the constant misrepresentation of Esoteric ideas and principles by such artists is a little hard for me to stomach at times, again though, this is predominantly the black metal scene which is responsible for that.

With regards to Crowley influencing films and such, a few weeks ago I was fortunate enough pick up a dvd of "The Devil Rides out" which is based on a book by Dennis Wheatley. The main "Bad guy" in this film is undoubtedly based on Crowley, albeit his more romanticised 'dark' aspects. An affluent but gullible young chap falls under the influence of a sinister Occult leader and gets himself involved in the whole ghastly business of Black Magic and Devil worship. Despite its somewhat cheasy approach it made me painfully aware that they don't make horror films like they used to! I wouldn't mind a modern day re-make of this film though, it was actually pretty good.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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The influence that Crowley has in terms of his representation or inspiration on characters in fiction goes back as far as Somerset Maughan's "The Magician." So even during his life Crowley had become the fictional bad guy.

I like Raven's idea that Crowley "lived his life almost like a performance, a living art fully embracing the creative and destructive." Which draws parallels to the lives of men who were distinctly influenced by Crowley early on like Antonin Artaud and later Grotowski. This idea that "the life is the art" is something that Crowley was certainly aware of.

As for Crowley's misrepresentation in media (especially in various music's) this phenomenon doesn't seem to be limited to Crowley. Bands, writers, whomever seem to like the idea of referencing the imagery of the idea of the occult without actually taking into account its meaning.

The Guardian article is topical, but has its flaws. It seems to be leading one in the direction of exploring the idea of Crowley's influence, but really seems more to laundry list his activities during his life.

I think the most obvious point where you can look at Crowley manipulating the two sides of his persona is in 8 Lectures on Yoga. In what would be a standard introductory lecture on yoga to an unfamiliar British audience he shouts out things like "Kill the Pope". Shocking, and for various reasons necessary, but it reveals Crowley's desire to actively shape the perceptions of his audience in regards to his public persona.

What I wonder is at how Crowley (and Thelema) have become such a wide source of inspiration for so many artists. Metal bands aside most of the practitioners I know are creative artists. This is not a coincidence I think and I wonder at how various Currents are specifically in tune with the creative impulse.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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as a sound artist i have drawn a lot from crowley's life and works and his influence flows through everything i do musickally.

it's hard to narrow down specifics, but perhaps the most obvious thing is liber oz. to be true to oneself as an artist and to let the creative energy of the universe flow through one in accordance with one's true will is a magickal thing.

sorry if i am not making much sense.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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In a recent discussion, involving Jesu of The Nazarene Myth, We pondered that, in one perspective,
Aeonic upheavals are of The 'Jungian Unconcious'-metaphor-As a lake becomes frozen on top, the warmer, lower waters do rise, exposing that which was hidden, except to the Divers: We have a pinnacle of reference, The Glorious, Beautiful, and Most Powerful, Aleister Crowley.
There is a mass change in conciousness, even t.v. adverts state 'Every day people are waking to the revolution: self empowerment, buy our yoghurts.'
A.C. inspired The Hippie movement, in the Jungian unconcious, as on the cover of 'Sgt. Pepper.'
He inspired the socialist, intensely anti christian movement, which spawned the 'Frankensteinian monster' :-'Punk'. The Genies out of the bottle; The greatest Human Mind/circumstances were incarnated in A.C. The peak of an immense iceberg. The very home of The Gods!
His tireless effort resounds within:- They reflect, out, and about. The talk here is of some form of
'Dark imagery-qualifications to be a 'Blue Peter presenter' nowadays, Methinks. ( A U.K. Kiddies programme, a presenter exposed as having a penchant for prostitutes, in cocaine fueled orgia. )
To My mind, He writes of things as they truly are; to cut Oneself off from the waist down, denying the dark regions of the soul, as was/is the Eastern Mystics method, is surely to validate the 'demon' as a seperate entity, rather than integrate that inclination as force, into One's life, or willed projection. This cthonic realm provides much in the way of inspiration to the musician, the Poet, The Artist etc.
Crowley, publicly nailed Himself to The Cross, and on the third day rose, a visible reference point/link to the other Worlds for All to see. I 'see' muses flung from His form, as bright orange sparks of Holy fire, alighting amidst violet radiation.
Metal Music? I sincerely suggest, that you can transcend this with an album: 'The Rapture' by Siouxsie and the Banshees' produced by Jon Cale. A most excellent piece; dark, potent evocation, to the rising as 'Stargazer' There is net access, you could be in for a treat!
As Darkflame said; I might not be making much sense, but a goodly fellow showed Me how to let My stream of conciousness through, discreetly, a change, for Me, in approach. And, Hey! Maybe a little orange spark will aid My fellow aspirant, somewhere, somehow! To My mind, 'tis a major aim!
If you're stuck, needing advice on Crowley themes, that really can not be publicly given, please feel free to pop a private note in, and a True Adept, will aid you, if you're a solo Thelemite, as able.
Love under Will.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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Note:
'A true Adept' sounds like the arrogance of a Sorcerer I once knew, however, as in another thread, there are certain principles which cannot be revealed publicly, or innacurately.
One must surely maintain a sensible balance.
With that thought, I shall retire for the night.
Serenity-One/All.


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phthah
(@phthah)
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93,

"creatcher" wrote:
And in a second bit I wonder about the contrast between Crowley's 'Beast" persona and the dark imagery surrounding him (drug use, open sexuality, etc) versus the enlightened intellectual who spoke of Yoga, eastern thought, and would provide the outline of Thelemic ideals.

Its interesting that these things that are considered to be his "dark imagery (drug use, open sexuality, etc)" which you then contrast with his enlightened side that "would provide the outline of Thelemic ideals" are actually part of those Thelemic ideals, which you are calling enlightened. Of course, drug use is not a Thelemic ideal, but certainly the freedom to use drugs, if you will, is. Open sexuality is a right of everyone! I find it interesting that these aspects of the "bad boy" persona of A.C. are actually an integral part of Thelema and not really "bad". Of course, this enlightened attitude was inspirational to the rock bands of the 60's and 70's e.v. For example, everyone is familiar with the influence of Jimmy Page on Thelema. I for one owe him a debt of gratitude for introducing me to Aleister Crowley! 😉

"Draconuit" wrote:
To My mind, He writes of things as they truly are; to cut Oneself off from the waist down, denying the dark regions of the soul, as was/is the Eastern Mystics method, is surely to validate the 'demon' as a seperate entity, rather than integrate that inclination as force, into One's life, or willed projection.

I certainly agree with this Draco and it is interesting that you mentioned it as I was just reading A.C.'s commentary to Liber AL chapter 1, where this is openly expressed. But are these "dark regions of the soul" or this "dark imagery" really dark?

93 93/93
phthah


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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"phthah" wrote:
93,

"creatcher" wrote:
And in a second bit I wonder about the contrast between Crowley's 'Beast" persona and the dark imagery surrounding him (drug use, open sexuality, etc) versus the enlightened intellectual who spoke of Yoga, eastern thought, and would provide the outline of Thelemic ideals.

Its interesting that these things that are considered to be his "dark imagery (drug use, open sexuality, etc)" which you then contrast with his enlightened side that "would provide the outline of Thelemic ideals" are actually part of those Thelemic ideals, which you are calling enlightened. Of course, drug use is not a Thelemic ideal, but certainly the freedom to use drugs, if you will, is. Open sexuality is a right of everyone! I find it interesting that these aspects of the "bad boy" persona of A.C. are actually an integral part of Thelema and not really "bad". Of course, this enlightened attitude was inspirational to the rock bands of the 60's and 70's e.v. For example, everyone is familiar with the influence of Jimmy Page on Thelema. I for one owe him a debt of gratitude for introducing me to Aleister Crowley! 😉

"Draconuit" wrote:
To My mind, He writes of things as they truly are; to cut Oneself off from the waist down, denying the dark regions of the soul, as was/is the Eastern Mystics method, is surely to validate the 'demon' as a seperate entity, rather than integrate that inclination as force, into One's life, or willed projection.

I certainly agree with this Draco and it is interesting that you mentioned it as I was just reading A.C.'s commentary to Liber AL chapter 1, where this is openly expressed. But are these "dark regions of the soul" or this "dark imagery" really dark?

93 93/93
phthah

Yes, some of the publicly perceived "darker places" actually are true expressions of Thelemic Light. Others, such as the sillier notions of cartoon satanism that are associated with AC, although they did and do attract flurries of moths to the Flame, no doubt prevented him from moving freely and productively in more serious circles that may have benefited him. It was, and still is "Aleister Crowley, despite being best known for ____, also showed remarkable insight into ____." Then again, it really may have been the flurries of moths that carried his legacy through and beyond the period of obscurity that followed his Greater Feast, moths enticed by the offerings John Symonds. 😉 I look forward to a greater appreciation of Crowley.


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michaelclarke18
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I think that Crowley's life & life style - rather than his work - has the greater influence.

Sorry, can't be more specific right now.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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I would point to the possible connection between True Will and creativity. If you are an artist, and art is a part of your Will (or vice versa?), then finding and developing your True Will would be pretty much the same as developing your art. Some of the best art is mined from the depths of the unconscious mind - and ritual magick is one hell of a good mining tool. If that art is aligned with your Will, then you've got some damn potent art.

As a writer, for whatever it's worth, I use a process of ritual to keep the creativity flowing.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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To correct my vague use of the term "dark" in regards to Crowley's actions and public perception I meant "dark" from the point of view of the general public, not from someone initiated.

Phil's idea of the connection between True Will and creativity intrigues me, and I wonder from a Thelemic Current standpoint if those practitioners more directly involved in Crowley's work (initiated or otherwise) are intentionally drawing on said Currents as a source of access to their own personal creative wellspring?

As for the "moths to the flame" I think that certainly there are many who come to Crowley and his works from the public perception's 'bad guy' imagery, but I often wonder how many of these are more than passing fancy when faced with the depth of Crowley's writings.

Do any members familiar with Crowley as a painter have thoughts on his potential use of ritual in preparation of his working process? Are there known or suggested rituals for specifically accessing one's creative 'muse'?


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ozzzz666
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Personally, I have drawn almost exclusively on my interaction with the Thelemic current in my music for quite some time. Crowley, and Thelema are great inspiration to me in this work.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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"creatcher" wrote:
Phil's idea of the connection between True Will and creativity intrigues me, and I wonder from a Thelemic Current standpoint if those practitioners more directly involved in Crowley's work (initiated or otherwise) are intentionally drawing on said Currents as a source of access to their own personal creative wellspring?

I can't speak for others, but it does seem to me that artist/musicians like Genesis P-Orridge don't make much distinction between "art" and "ritual." Many Psychic TV albums were recordings of ritual performances or were intended to be used as soundtrack for ritual. While Gen's magick ranges somewhat wider than just one current, some of the material is straight-up 93.

Check out the list of bands and filmmakers presenting at the upcoming Equinox Festival (equinoxfestival.org). I think that pretty much the whole list integrates ritual (often unabashedly Thelemic) with art.


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 Anonymous
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"creatcher" wrote:
Are there known or suggested rituals for specifically accessing one's creative 'muse'?

Generally regular banishings followed by invokings spew up stuff from the unconscious - unresolved or repressed issues lurking in the shadow, symptoms, etc. - providing potent material for art. These experiences are not lightly called ordeals. You won't need to worry about whether the resulting work is good or not - your art will practically “create itself”. The overall process itself will draw you into a relationship with your muse.

Presuming you are a sane and healthy person (i.e. not on antidepressants, antipsychotics or any life threatening conditions) two suggestions from Liber O.

Regularly perform LBRP for 1 - 2 weeks daily as preparation. I recommend avoiding alcohol or substances during this period:

1. Determine what your artwork is about, pick the corresponding planet. Then continue with LBRP followed by that planetary invoking. Keep doing it daily until something happens (anywhere from 1 - 2 weeks). Record the results - thoughts, impressions, unusual occurrences. Then do LBRP and banish the planet until the effect wears off.

2. Do LBRP followed by invoking Lesser Hexagram Ritual. Same as above. It is my belief that this ritual sequence aligns consciousness with the collective unconscious, the One of the Ararita formula, although this is not the official explanation.

Feel free to report back on the results.


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