Start of interest Crowley/Thelema?
What if you can remember got you interested in Crowley and or Thelema?
I for one can't really remember exactly what it was that got me reading Crowley.
I remember a few times coming across his works and I wouldn't go near them.
I had this crazy idea that he wouldn't have anything to offer me on my search.
I would have to say that my programers had done a "good" job on me where I viewed A.C. as a nut job who was all about negative energy.
It's really funny now when I think how wrong I was.
I can truly say that I have found such profound beauty in Thelema and for that, I will forever be grateful to Crowley for his pushing the door open to a new reality for me.
It was my love of Israel Regardie's books that first turned me onto Aleister Crowley. I was always more into Regardie's work than Crowley's to be honest. That didn't even change when I met Amado either. I remember ordering a few pamphlet type booklets from the Sorcerer's Apprentice shop, Leah Sublime comes to mind, it had a great hand drawn cover too, and another which he originally gave as a lecture somewhere about Giles de Rey I think. It was a long time ago.
The Ace Books paperback of Confessions in about 1971 or so, i was maybe 12. Mentions in various books about witchcraft and Satanism had piqued my curiosity, and i was smitten on reading the Hag.
Perhaps i will get over what my dad called an "adolescent obsession with a notorious charlatan" soon.
I first became interested in Crowley in the mid to late 1960s, when the hippie and psychedelic counter-culture sparked an interest in the occult, Crowley included. I already knew the name when he was included on the cover of 'Sergeant Pepper', and remember an article on Crowley in the London hippie magazine 'Gandalf's Garden' in 1968 - 'A Whiter Shade of Grey' or something similar. There wasn't a great deal of material around at the time, though I remember reading 'The Great Beast' at the time.
Then the Grant/Symonds edition of 'The Confessions' came out in 1969, and it was utterly enthralling. Shortly after that, editions of Crowley's works became available as imports from the USA. One of the first I bought was a reprint of 'The Book of Thoth' by Weiser. I didn't come across 'The Book of the Law' until an edition by Xeno Publications published in 1970, edited by Jerry Kay. I thought it an extraordinarily powerful text, and still do. I found some of it beautiful and profound, other parts repulsive, and still do.
Since those early days, I've been through many changes. I don't have the same attitude towards Crowley that I had in those early years, though my regard for Crowley's work is undimmed; I love in particular 'Liber Aleph', 'Little Essays Toward Truth', 'Tao Teh Ching', 'The Confessions', and 'The Book of Lies'.
93 Thanks Michael, i love reading about people's stories regarding getting involved with Thelema.
I'm currently reading IN THE CENTER OF THE FIRE A Memoir of the Occult 1966-1989 by James Wasserman.
It's a fascinating book.
93 93 /93
Apologies but somehow seem to have double posted
Apologies, appear to have somehow double posted
I don't know what happened earlier, it seems to have been a bit of tech trouble. Third time lucky, perhaps? Well here goes...
The first occasion I came across Crowley was a lurid late 60s paperback reprint of C.R.Cammell’s biography, thoughtfully re-antichristened The Black Magician, which I found in a Woolie’s book bargain bin around 1970, and which I thought might make a decent birthday present for my dad (who sometimes read that sort of thing, or so I believed, mistakenly tying it in with his taste for thriller and horror fiction such as Dennis Wheatley). I can remember also being impressed by the mesmeric style and forcefulness of A.C.’s 1918 “self portrait” which had also been reprinted on the back cover, but filed it away for future reference and did not actually read the book myself at the time. I can't recall my dad’s reaction to it although I think he did appreciate the thoughtful intentions behind the deed, however when I went to read it myself I can remember thinking how well kept it looked, almost as if it didn’t ever seem to have been opened…
Roll forward a couple of years, and the first book written by Crowley himself which I encountered was the 1972 Grant & Symonds’ edited Magical Record of the Beast 666, which I found in the basement of a secondhand bookshop in the area I used to frequent (at Kirkdale Corner in Sydenham South London, since you ask. A fine emporium as was, and one which I believe is still surviving there to this day.) I couldn’t make much sense of the sex-magick record itself, but at the back The Book of the Law was reprinted (possibly for the first time in the UK?). Since it was fairly short compared with the rest of the book I examined this more closely, especially the first dozen or so verses & skimming through the rest with favourable but mystified first impressions, being notably intrigued by “Every number is infinite, there is no difference” (I:4) which although I couldn’t fully understand (and forty five years later, still can’t) fascinated me in particular (and still does hold a particular attraction).
I didn’t actually buy that book until some while later, it being rather expensive for my pocket money at the time. However not long after that I came across the Bantam paperback edition of Confessions, and bought that instead as being more economic. I was 13 when I started reading it and remember thinking “well, if the guy can write like this, he can’t be all That bad”, and I continued to devour it at odd free moments, like in the five minute turnaround between lessons at school when I might snatch the odd page or two. In fact I was just finishing off a paragraph at the start of an English lesson, when the teacher, presumably curious as to what piece of literature it was which had entranced my attention, sashayed up the aisle of desks and stopped at mine, where the Confessions resided on top of the Shakespeare or whatever it was we were supposed to be studying at the time (actually I believe it was 1984, but no matter). His minatory forefinger extended out and rapped several times on top of the cover (which as you may recall was black, with a sort of wreath comprising pictures of nubile femininity writhing intertwined amongst images of bald headed Crowley, serpents etc): not a single word was uttered, but the sound and vision of his finger rapping expressively five - not four, not six - times with unmisteakeably distinct disapproval before moving on was absolutely unambiguous and remains with me to this day as clear as the proverbial bell. I can then recall smiling cheerfully back at his frowning face in lieu of looking to be expectedly rebuked and suitably chastised, whilst thinking “well, if the guy can get a reaction like this, he can’t be all That bad!” Doubtless the teacher, who incidentally went on to be my sixth form tutor, had me pegged down as some sort of a weirdo and a potential recidivist from that moment on. And reader, from there as they say, “I never looked back”: my fate was sealed…
Seems that the Hag clearly has a lot to answer for!
Looking forward to reading other Lashtalians' experiences of origins (apathy allowing),
Norma N Joy Conquest
Perhaps i will get over what my dad called an “adolescent obsession with a notorious charlatan” soon.
Ha, ha --- possibly not just yet, though! I think it's safe to reckon that'd be a somewhat optimistic expectation on your part, ignant666, everything taken into consideration - but I suspect you may have probably come to that realization already!
Likewise terminally corrupted & brainwashed beyond all hope of redemption,
I think I am one of few people who got into Crowley and Thelema 'backwards,' via Kenneth Grant first and then AC.
I thiiiiink (this was about 11 years ago now) it was due to two things, not sure which was first: always hearing about Kenneth Grant thanks to the Tool newsletter (the band) and also I was reading a lot of Sky Books from Peter Moon, who references Kenneth and Crowley a lot in his work (about Montauk, conspiracies, etc). After I read the Grant material a few times I naturally became curious about Kenneth's teacher and also the ideas behind Thelema etc, so I got the Crowley basics, 'Magick,' 'Confessions,' 'Gems,' and it branched out from there!