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belmurru
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14/02/2014 11:59 pm  

My own answer is 13.

I've chosen to list each year because it seems to me that those years are ones that people specifically remember - everybody remembers 14 from 15 and 24 from 25, but not 34 from 35 - and they are "formative years", either growing up physically and emotionally or, finally, intellectually.

Obviously, there will be different opinions, and disagreements with the premise of my poll, so please explain.

I am interested in this question because a lot of the people I know who are "into" Crowley got into him in early adolescence - puberty -, and only stayed with him because of that early exposure. I'd like to test this theory.

The question wasn't when one first heard of Crowley, since that could be projected back - I first read of him at age 12, or perhaps 11 or even earlier, but I had no idea about him. This was in 1978, in The People's Almanac (1975) by David Wallichinsky and Irving Wallace, while that autumn I read a chapter on Crowley in The Zarkon Principle (by "Zarkon" - also published in 1975 -perhaps I read them in 1975? I don't think so, but memories are unclear in those days). But I didn't read Crowley himself - the Book of the Law and the Book of Thoth - until late 1979 and 1980 respectively.

P.S. - I forgot to add, that if you will, please explain the circumstances and the text(s) that you began with. My prediction will be The Book of the Law for most, but I want to learn with a real sense.

P.P.S. - Please don't feel obliged to explain. But if you read this post, please vote!


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Michael Staley
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15/02/2014 9:36 am  

18. The Confessions when first published by Symonds & Grant in the UK in 1969.


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belmurru
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15/02/2014 9:51 am  
"MichaelStaley" wrote:
18. The Confessions when first published by Symonds & Grant in the UK in 1969.

That's a good one, and a good age, to start. At least if you got bitten, you were at the right age to begin acting on it. I didn't get around to the Confessions, same edition (dust jacket long gone) until 1985, age 19. By that time I was free, and on a Crowley-buying spree.

You also had a double advantage - some people who knew him, like Kenneth Grant, were still very much alive; and, you were in the UK. I'm jealous. You've made good on it, I salute you.

The closest I've come to Crowley is two degrees of separation - knowing a Lodge Master who was initiated by Grady. Of course if "Crowleyana" counts, I've had a few signed books, but I prefer living people as a better way to meet Crowley across time.


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michaelclarke18
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15/02/2014 9:55 am  

I had read a good deal of books about AC when I was around 15, but I only got to read a book actually by him when I was 17, MAGICK - RKP edition. What I got from it was probably rather patchy, but I do remember feeling pleased that I owned a copy. 


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belmurru
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15/02/2014 11:18 am  
"michaelclarke18" wrote:
I had read a good deal of books about AC when I was around 15, but I only got to read a book actually by him when I was 17, MAGICK - RKP edition. What I got from it was probably rather patchy, but I do remember feeling pleased that I owned a copy. 

You bring up another good memory - the pleasure, even ecstasy, of each new book, as you found it. I remember the exact circumstances of my first Book of the Law, first Book of Thoth (the book a year before the deck), first Magick, Book of Lies, Vision and the Voice (Sangreal), Collected Works, 777, and The Holy Books, in the fall of 1983.

I've never been a collector, only ever a student, nevertheless amassing a good collection. Most of it has ended up passing through my fingers, but a few of those originals remain, worthless to collectors but priceless treasures to me.

The slow acquisition of books in those days had the benefit of making you pore over the texts, engraving every word in your mind; the weight of the book, they typeface, the sides of the page on which this or that is found, the texture of the paper. Because so much was out of reach, I had to reach into the text, to do what it says (if it were a practice), to go back again and again until it had become a part of me.


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joe93
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15/02/2014 12:21 pm  

19, 1989. Fond memories! Borrowed a friend's copy of Magick (RKP, the only AC book he had) before getting my own, then the big green Arkana Hag which remains my favourite AC book. (I can't of course pass up this opportunity to ask where the unexpurgated version is; any excuse will do!) Then King of the Shadow Realm from the local library, and everything I could find - Regardie edited Falcon stuff, Francis X King, Colin Wilson, Kenneth Grant...the Mandrake Equinox, and eventually a Lecram MTP. Full circle. Still got 'em all.
(PS I told the guys at VIZ comic about Snowdrops from a Curates Garden, with its rude glossary (pre the Profanusaurus) and the synchronicity of a character who carries his bollocks around in a wheelbarrow about 100 years before VIZ created Buster Gonad (Teitan ed p. 37). They were amused.)


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Horemakhet
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15/02/2014 12:38 pm  

At 19 years of age, & in 1998. It was the Autohag, & taken out from the library in Victoria,BC,Canada. I had heard about AC since I first got into Led Zeppelin at age 12, but it took the intervening 7 years or so until I finally had a book by him in my hands- & that is a big one! Still my favourite as well. (when is the unexpurgated version *finally* going to come out ?!?!)


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michaelclarke18
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15/02/2014 1:42 pm  

The slow acquisition of books in those days had the benefit of making you pore over the texts, engraving every word in your mind;

I think that a really important point. When you acquire books slowly, ones mind tends to assimilate them far more thoroughly.


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Horemakhet
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15/02/2014 3:01 pm  
"michaelclarke18" wrote:

The slow acquisition of books in those days had the benefit of making you pore over the texts, engraving every word in your mind;

I think that a really important point. When you acquire books slowly, ones mind tends to assimilate them far more thoroughly.

Exactly. Once the appetite is whet, then the student/reader follows. I think that AC designed it that way. He left entry points in his work, but he did not desire what many other authors of his calibre did- which was to invite the general Public. He teased around with the notion, but it never stuck. Here was a man who wrote SO much, every day, & yet he knew (somehow) that his audience would come after his death. He planted seeds in his texts.


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the_real_simon_iff
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15/02/2014 4:15 pm  

93!

I found into AC pretty late, I was 22 and it was 1988 (I just realized that a few weeks ago on the babble-on box I celebrated my 25th year of reading Crowley when it actually was my 26th year, well...). This is how I described it nine years ago in my "how it all began" thread:

In the mid-late eighties I was apparently too bored, too embittered and too rich and decided to ruin myself with drugs. Pretending to do this as a big and meaningful statement I chose Burroughs, Pitigrilli, Bukowski etc. as my idols - and of course The Diary Of A Drug Fiend. Also some of the drugs made me so talky that nothing was ever done without asking the Tarot (first the Daikini Oracle, later the Thoth set) and squabbling for hours, sometimes for days about the results. The boredom, the bitterness, the money and luckily the drugs vanished, but the interest in the books and the mysterious Abbey from Drug Fiend stayed. I fought myself through the - in my opinion - weak and - in everybody's opinion - cheaply produced translations of AC and Golden Dawn works by MD Eschner and Marcus Jungkurth (no ebay or amazon then) until in 1992 I virtually by chance stumbled into the Equinox bookshop in Museum Street while visiting London. I came out with huge bags of the beautiful First Impressions series and lots of other AC books and - here I am. I also observed that lots of the druggies then happened to like The Diary Of A Drug Fiend or the Thoth Tarot, but strangely none of them for very long - they possibly never thought much about the concept of The Will.

Of course I heard from him earlier when in 1980 Ozzy released the famous mis-pronounced anthem. I also had the the Thoth deck earlier but it really took me 8 years before I finally really read him.

Love=Law
Lutz


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ptoner
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15/02/2014 10:50 pm  

13 also for me,  via Kerrang magazine,  which led onto Magick in Theory in practice. Understood nothing,  it took me maybe until I was 25 or so until I revisited Crowley. So he left his mark.

Mentioned a bit more, in this previous post. http://www.lashtal.com/forum/http://www.lashtal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1


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michaelclarke18
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15/02/2014 11:12 pm  

I virtually by chance stumbled into the Equinox bookshop in Museum Street

I think that it's the Atlantis book shop that is in Museum Street.


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 Anonymous
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16/02/2014 12:32 am  

I began reading Crowley at age 17 when I also simultaneously began reading Lovecraft.  The first book I bought about Crowley was The Magical World of Aleister Crowley by Francis King and a week or two later I bought my first books by A.C.: AL, The Holy Books, and Liber Aleph.  Even before reading Grant (which was 2-4 years later), I sensed a "connection" between the works of Crowley and Lovecraft, and they have influenced my Path greatly. 

Over a decade since I first bought the above mentioned books, and here I am!  😀


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 Anonymous
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16/02/2014 3:34 am  

Actually, now that I've been pondering it a bit, I believe I was 18 not 17, when I first read A.C.  My apologies for the mistake. 


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lashtal
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16/02/2014 10:34 am  
"michaelclarke18" wrote:

I virtually by chance stumbled into the Equinox bookshop in Museum Street

I think that it's the Atlantis book shop that is in Museum Street.

Yes, the Equinox Bookshop - owned by Jimmy Page - was off Kensington High Street. Atlantis Bookshop in Museum Street survives and thrives; the Equinox Bookshop no longer exists outside of Companies House.

Owner and Editor
LAShTAL


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the_real_simon_iff
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16/02/2014 1:17 pm  

93!

"michaelclarke18" wrote:
I think that it's the Atlantis book shop that is in Museum Street.

Correct, my bad. I copy-pasted this mistake from nine years ago. It was of course Atlantis bookshop in Mueseum Street. Embarrassing, since I visited Atlantis numerous times since then and quite regularly (nearly weekly) when I worked in London for a year in 1999.

Love=Law
Lutz


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Los
 Los
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16/02/2014 5:59 pm  

I was about 18 years old when I started reading Crowley. I had heard of him before, and I remember reading about him for some time before reading anything written by him.

Donald Michael Kraig made several references to Crowley and his achievements in Modern Magick, which I was studying and working with when I was 17. Kraig spoke highly of him and recommended his 777 for the practicing magician. I can recall looking for information on Crowley online and coming across Tim Maroney’s excellent website introduction to him, the religioustolerance.org essay on Thelema, the BeastBay forums, and more. It is almost certain that I would have read Liber II in this period online (and probably some other core Crowley texts, like De Lege Libellum), but I don’t remember my reaction. Since I was a fan of Joseph Campbell, it is likely that I would have seen it in line with Campbell’s famous line “Follow your bliss,” which is sort of on track but not exactly.

I acquired a physical copy of 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley, and I found it dense and confusing, but I also found the prose witty and engaging. I recognized the achievement of the tables of 777 and their usefulness for practical workings.

A little later that year, while studying the tarot, I bought a Thoth tarot deck and the Book of Thoth. The process of studying that text really introduced me to Thelema and Crowley’s thought. I was engrossed by the depth of Crowley’s deck, his knowledge of symbolism in assembling and explaining it, and the role of The Book of the Law in shaping these incredibly powerful images. At one point, Crowley explains that one can think of the tarot as a series of illustrations of the Book of the Law, and it was comments of that sort that led me from my study of the tarot to my study of Liber AL. [It was also around this time that I began to notice that Crowley sure quoted from Liber AL and discussed it a great deal, which he obviously wouldn’t do if he seriously intended people to read the Book only once and/or never study or discuss it. I had previously entertained the idea that “The Comment” was a sort of joke and/or didn’t mean what it might seem to mean on a careless first read, but this was the first time I noticed that Crowley probably held that point of view as well]

My first copy of Liber AL was printed out from the OTO’s website, and it became my nightly study alongside Crowley’s commentary, which I also read online. I supplemented these insights with any commentaries I could find, including one which I later learned was penned by Jim Eshelman, another by Motta, and many more by anonymous but interesting voices (“Scarlet Sisterhood Commentary,” anyone?). In this same period, I tore through much of Crowley’s material online as my fancy took me. In this period would be my first read through of Magick in Theory and Practice, which I immediately saw as primarily useful for its insight into Thelema, and The Confessions, which I saw as useful in similar ways.

I slowly began to collect physical copies of his work. Magick Without Tears was perhaps my favorite. I loved Crowley’s more casual style in that work, and I admired the way that he encouraged a healthy attitude of skepticism – never demanding that the reader take his word for anything and admitting in many places that he didn’t have all the answers. I also enjoyed seeing not only his responses to questions but his approach to those questions (interrogating their premises in many cases, pulling apart what the question was even asking). These attitudes, coupled with Crowley’s hilarious putdowns of religionism and supernaturalist nonsense (for example, the way he made fun of the typical idea that people have of karma in Book IV) helped to shape my perspective and encouraged me to approach questions of the supernatural with doubt.

I also bought The Book of Lies, which I considered to be Crowley’s masterpiece. I was studying Crowley alongside Nietzsche and Zen Buddhism, and there was a *lot* that I saw that resonated between these philosophies, particularly the idea that the rational mind has limitations and needs to be, in a sense, “overcome.” The Book of Lies is an insightful, powerful collection of poems organized around the Qabalah, and it dovetailed perfectly with everything else I was reading.

My Crowley collection continued to grow from there, as did my studies and practice. In about three years time, I had read, reread, and thoroughly studied (that is, with notes, underlining, half-formulated essays, etc.) what I consider to be all of the major/important Crowley texts. During that time, I shifted my magical practice to a far more “Thelemic” paradigm (replacing the LBRP with the Star Ruby, for example, and for a time performing a daily battery of Thelemic rituals culminating with Samekh).

So yeah, my answer is 18.


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ptoner
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16/02/2014 11:18 pm  

Yes,  recall the "scarlet sisterhood " also bud. Best wiped from the memory banks!


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William Thirteen
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17/02/2014 7:39 am  

I think it was somewhere about 13-15. Approached via research into witchcraft & paganism. Always was an odd child. Colin Wilson & Dennis Wheatley led me to The Beast. Then found MiTaP (Dover edition) and Thoth. As was common in such extreme cases of the time, I did a lot of legwork. A forged letter of introduction from the high school principal gained me entrance into the Library of Congress - what riches! - even now the thought brings a shudder of bookish delight. My reader's desk piled high with fat first editions and slim volumes of poetry. At 17 a letter sent to California was answered by a certain Soror Meral… "Yeegads!", I exclaimed in comic book terms upon opening the mail, "this thing still exists!" Well, you can imagine the rest. 

It does bring a smile to recall how much effort was required to gain access to the texts, and the sense of excitement when some treasure was unearthed.


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belmurru
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17/02/2014 8:44 am  

Thanks very much for all your responses so far, gentlemen! (so far no ladies). So far so good. From the 19 people who have voted up to now, and the 10 people who have given the texts that got them hooked, my preconceptions already seem to have been wrong.

The late teens, 17 to 19, with 9 (nine) votes, are more common than the early teens/puberty, 12 to 15, with only 4 (four) votes. I imagine this difference would only become more pronounced with more votes. If we include the early 20s, with an additional 6 (six) votes, then it seems clear that the majority of people (all men in the case of this poll so far; I feel incapable of generalizing or even guessing what a sample of womens' responses would look like) are past the roughest parts of puberty and into the intellectually formative period when they get seriously into Crowley. This is perhaps not surprising, since Crowley is a mature and complex writer, so other factors must explain the precocity of the early teen experience.

In the case of formative books, here as well my preconception was wrong.

Only two guys started with The Book of the Law - Me and N.O.X (N.O.X. got all the Holy Books at once, along with an extremely difficult text, Liber Aleph).

Four of you started with Magick In Theory and Practice - MichaelClarke18, Joe93, Paul Toner, and WilliamThirteen. This is the most common one, but the sample is too small to make a generalisation.

Two of you started with the Confessions - Michael Staley and Horemakhet. You also started at the same age - 19 (coincidentally, I also read it first, and furiously, at age 19 as well. Hmmmm...).

Our two mavericks, Lutz and Los, started with Diary of a Drug Fiend and 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings, respectively (I omit the precursor reading and whispers and hints that precede  the first memorable text). Given their backgrounds and explanations of the circumstances, I can see the appropriateness of these initial texts in each of their cases.


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jamie barter
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17/02/2014 1:14 pm  

13 (also) for me too: I acquired The Magical Record of the Beast 666 (Duckworth, 1972) which had The Book of the Law reproduced in it at the back – although newly published at the time, it was reduced on offer (a review copy?) in a second hand bookshop which I used to frequent.  Needless to say, I couldn’t make head or tail of it at the time - especially Rex de Arte Regia!  (Alongside Liber Aleph, probably the worst Crowley text to serve as an introduction!) 

However I persisted, and next up was the Bantam paperback edition of Confessions which took several months to read through, much to the apparent consternation/ disgruntlement/ agitation of teachers at the grammar school where I lugged it & its cheerfully lurid colourful cover around whilst I was ploughing through it (and which reactions of course made me all the more interested in persevering with reading & finishing it!!)  So, overall, I would consider that I really “started” with the Hag too…

The first time I actually encountered the Beast himself, though, was about ten, through purchasing & reading through the 1969 NEL paperback copy of C.R. Cammell’s biography “A.C.: The Man, The Mage, the Poet” which was similarly luridly re-entitled “Aleister Crowley - The Black Magician” (!) and which I found reduced in Woolie’s [Woolworth’s] bargain bins shortly afterwards.

Adding my groat to the collection plate,
Norma n Joy Conquest


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RHK418
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17/02/2014 7:36 pm  

Watched one of those 'documentaries' on Crowley. ('In search of', I think.) Took Crowley from vague familiarity to a definite interest. Age 31 at the time.
Promptly got ahold of the Book of the Law - and then it got ahold of me....


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Hamal
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17/02/2014 8:00 pm  

My first encounter with Crowley was via John Symonds' The Great Beast. I still have the dog eared paperback version I began with. Shocked, enthralled and unable to put it down. When I finished it, I re-read it again! And decided I wanted to know more about this notorious/extra-ordinary man! My interest in matters Occult started much younger, probably properly about 13/14, but it wasn't until my early twenties that I encountered Crowley. The thing I loved most about Crowleys' life as I understood it then, was the sense of rebellion... against society, seemingly against God! It chimed with my own sense of rebellion over matters religious and moral!

😀
93
Hamal


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jamie barter
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19/02/2014 12:48 pm  

I just wanted to say that it seems a shame that after all the effort Belmurru went to in order to set up a poll, there’s been such a lacklustre response from the comparatively many members who have read this particular thread through.  It’s not altogether surprising however, when one bears in mind the paucity of pollsters (44 wasn’t it) who bothered to cast their opinion on the relatively more important question of “fill/kill?”  As both have been nominally secret ballots – and the majority of Lashtalians have a ‘false’ avatar name anyway – there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason for this apart from sheer laziness?  One wonders whether a similar response in actual elections could well be the evident corollary – maybe some of these would-be anarchist types might also waste their in reality hard-won democratic right to universal suffrage when it comes to shuffling around the pair of clowns from each parliamentary political party every 4 or 5 years?  As is usually pointed out on each such occasion when this phenomenon arises, the least these folk could do is actually vote but spoil their ballot paper to indicate their dissatisfaction with the whole process.  Although it’s hard to consider the equivalent of that on the Lash itself: maybe there should be an additional ‘box’ on each poll which goes something like “I think this is stupid” or “I disagree with the nature of the question put”, or “I don’t like the look of any of these candidates – they’re all a bit of shifty [/ shitty] bunch”?

As Belmurru also rightly points out,

"belmurru" wrote:
[...] all men in the case of this poll so far; I feel incapable of generalizing or even guessing what a sample of womens' responses would look like [...]

the lopsided male bias of the response to this particular poll means that the result will in turn give a skew-wise showing in view of the fact that the ‘ladies’ are either abstaining from participating or, not reading on the forum in the first place.  It’s disconcerting if it happens to be the case (as it does appear to be), that no women (scarlet or otherwise) have [so far] responded to the call of the poll, and it makes me wonder, again, about the male-female demographic of the membership of Lashtal itself.  This reservation was raised before in a previous thread with Paul, which he seemingly optimistically responded to at the time (or so I thought) with:

Reply #14 by Lashtal [Paul] on “Salutations” thread on Introductions board made on June 14, 2013 at 08:55:31 pm:

Quote from: Satan'sAdvocaat on June 14, 2013, 03:39:51 pm
Yes, you are that relatively rare entity, an active female member.

'Relatively rare'? I wouldn't begin to know how to assess the actual gender of members from their chosen usernames! What I can do, though, is view the private email addresses of those same members and on that basis 'female members' are less scarce that you appear to think. The proportion of 'active members' that are female appears, on the basis of email addresses, to be even higher, at least compared with those 'inactive.'

It was partly with this aspect in mind that I originally chose my own avatar name to have an element of ambiguity/ androgyny  about it, so that at least some people would think I might even be a female poster, and that this might perhaps encourage more of them to do so.  However Az put paid to that plan fairly swiftly (consult the somewhat-distracting-from-the-main-issue-albeit-a-mildly-hilarious-read  😀 in Replies #17 thru to #54 on the “Membership: To Be or Not To Be” thread on “Typhonian Concepts and Practice” board if you’re interested in the history of that malarkey…)  In case anyone might think of raising the point, it was not done at all in a patronising or sarcastic spirit, and had the best rather than the basest motives at heart: there do on the whole seem to be less thelemite women than men, although those I have had the pleasure to know and known are certainly on equal footing with their brethren and well girt with their swords.  Here though, apart from Hecate, I’m not really conscious of any woman who currently posts anything like regularly – although I think there was a rather ‘feisty’ one who went by the name of alrah who did so in the past?!  A.C. didn’t really help encourage the situation either with comments along the lines that they should be brought around to the back door along with the milk to satisfy the priapic needs of masculine thirsts: although not typical, one can understand why any such remarks might slightly alienate those of a more feminist persuasion, who unfortunately can also sometimes be rather a humourless bunch and who do not always get the joke.

Just adding my hopefully not too controversial further two cents here (…democratically speaking) -

Casting the pearls of voting before swine? (= polemically, but not personally speaking),
N-Joy


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obscurus
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19/02/2014 3:29 pm  

N-Joy, you bring to minds eye images of the portly schoolmarm...as I anxiously await the crack of the ruler across the knuckles!

In all seriousness though, I would vote but haven't, as I'm having a little trouble nailing down the exact year. I dropped out of school after the 9th grade and started working. So that places it in the early 70's. I remember the day distinctly and have photograph of myself which was taken as we were waiting for the bookshop to open. I spent nearly my entire weekly paycheck. I bought Little Essays Toward Truth, The Book of The Law and the white covered edition of The Holy Books by the Sangreal Foundation. As best as I can recollect, the first thing I read was, " What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" I bounced between the Essays and The Book of The Law. The roomful of books which are now in my possession are a direct result of a desire to understand the very first. Or I could be wrong and the very first thing was, " 1. Into my loneliness comes- "?


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Tiger
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19/02/2014 6:22 pm  

18ish Led Zep influence
Magick dover edition only book around in my bookstore jaunts late 1980ish
3 years or so later Book of Thoth, Hagiography, Diary of a Drug Fiend, Moon Child,Gems From the Equinox,
got me started.


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Anonymous
 Anonymous
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19/02/2014 8:55 pm  
"jamie barter" wrote:
...Alongside Liber Aleph, probably the worst Crowley text to serve as an introduction!

And of course, the 1991 Weiser Liber Aleph was my very first Crowley book, purchased from the well-stocked "New Age" section of my local Borders Books & Music at the age of 17. I have a very vivid memory of that trip as it was my first occult books run. Beginner's guides to the tarot and astrology were purchased, along with the little back paperback copy of The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey.

This was back when Weiser and the OTO actually kept Crowley books in print (humph!), so I had a variety of titles to select from. But I recall that I chose Liber Aleph because of its subtitle, The Book of Wisdom or Folly. The "wisdom or" in that statement puzzled me as an intriguing contradiction. As I read, I could get the little one-line philosophical statements, but the book as a whole made little sense to me. I also didn't like the biblical language styling, and there were lots of little symbols and names I didn't understand. Still, I persisted and read the whole thing. It went on my shelf and was, I'm sure, thrown out by my mother after I left home (along with my books on magic mushroom cultivation, hehe). Aside from glancing at Liber AL a few times in a bookstore, my interest in Crowley went dormant.

Today, I have the option of The Weiser Concise Guide to Aleister Crowley and Internet reviews and recommendations. Still, I remember the pull of Liber Aleph as being quite strong, so I wonder if my selection would have been any different. I wish I could go back and take advantage of the titles in print though. I ended up building my Crowley library within the past year, having to pay far too much for those formerly-$20 paperbacks that were so widely available at that (now defunct) Borders. I am convinced that their was a Thelemite who worked at that Borders though. Their Crowley section has trounced every other one I've ever encountered in a bookstore.


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Hamal
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19/02/2014 9:18 pm  

The more I think of what age I encountered Crowley the less sure I am. It's also a toss up as to whether I encountered Magick In Theory & Practice or Symonds The Great Beast first. Certainly I initially approached Magick In Theory & Practice from several angles then gave up and put it on the shelf where it looked very pretty for a couple of years. It was Symonds The Great Beast that really turned me onto Crowley proper and inspired me to read more. Age wise it was somewhere between 18 and 24! Probably somewhere in the middle! I would be the worst witness at a trial, I just don't retain details I feel irrelevant!  😀

🙂
93
Hamal


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William Thirteen
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19/02/2014 11:04 pm  

just realized i must revise my estimate back a few years. in fact, i was 7 when i first encountered The Beast as recounted here

http://www.lashtal.com/forum/http://www.lashtal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=0.msg62130


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arthuremerson
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20/02/2014 1:30 am  

I'm having difficulty remembering exactly what age I was when I first encountered Crowley. My guess begins at 13 and ends somewhere around 15, though the latter seems too high. I think I bought 777 and other Qabalistic Writings along with William Blake's Collected Works on a rare trip to a Barnes and Noble that was nearly two hours from our secluded Midwestern home. In any case, I'm fairly certain that 777 was the first of Crowley's books I owned; I was completely mystified by, and utterly intrigued with the essay Berashith.

Thanks to Belmurru for the intriguing poll and to those of you who have and will answer.


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jdes
 jdes
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20/02/2014 4:56 pm  

About 19 years old: I borrowed a copy of Francis King's Ritual Magic in England from a library. I've no idea what prompted me to borrow it…

…then shortly after I came across Confessions, again in the library. I think I had it on loan three or four times in order to get through it.

Possibly the first book I bought was a paperback copy of The Great Beast by Symonds and I recall discovering Robert Anton Wilson's work around the same time. Perhaps RAW's mentions of Crowley or A.'.A.'. (in Illuminatus ?) had me go look for more.


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threefold31
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26/02/2014 1:31 am  

Dwtw

I too also first heard of Crowley via the pages of the wonderful People's Almanac, first volume, 1975. AC was one of the 'Footnote People in World History', and oddly enough, considering my later work, this brief bio actually mentions Liber Trigrammaton as well as his use of I Ching - of all the things that one could say of the man in a few paragraphs!

A few years later I came across his poem Morphia (from Diary of a Drug Fiend) in a High Times magazine, and I promptly set this to music. But at that point I knew almost nothing about the man.

While waiting in line to buy books at the university bookstore for my first semester at college, I noticed the Dover edition of MITP on a nearby shelf. Remembering the name of the author, I sidled out of the line and picked it up, and just as quietly sidled right back into my place in the queue, giving those on line a look indicating I certainly wasn't going to the back of the line.

I devoured this book, but needed to find this "Book of the Law" that he kept mentioning - not an easy feat at the time. As good fortune would have it, when I finally discovered a store in the suburbs that carried this type of material, the Weiser edition of the Holy Books of Thelema had just been published. I still have that well worn hardback, first purchased in Oct. 1983. By the time Pluto entered Scorpio at the beginning of November, I was well on my way.

I proceeded to buy any and all books at the Mayflower Bookshop that had the name Crowley as the author, and ended up with quite a stash - Vision and the Voice, Liber Aleph, 777, Book of Lies, Little Essays Toward Truth, Magical and Philosophical Commentaries, The Law is For All, Book of Thoth, The Confessions (J. Cape hardcover), The Equinox of the Gods (facsimile) and several others. My big regret was not having the funds for an original 1929 Magick, which is probably worth five times that today, but I settled for the Weiser reprint in black hardcover, which I took with me to Boleskine for my self-initiation, (also fortified by some purchases at the Equinox bookstore in London at that time). So pretty much anything of Crowley's that was in print and available from late 1983 to 1986 or so ended up on my bookshelf. But I was fortunate to live in a large city where such things could be acquired.

So, in short, the Dover edition of Magick in Theory and Practice (Smyth-sewn for long life!), was my introduction to the Crowleyan oeuvre, at the tender age of 20. I'll never forgive the bastard for writing it 😉

Litlluw
RLG


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gurugeorge
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28/02/2014 5:00 pm  

I first heard about Crowley when I was around 13 or so, my local library had an occult section which had a book on the Golden Dawn, which mentioned him (can't remember which book it was), and then I read Colin Wilson's book, The Occult, which also mentioned him and quoted a few bits of his writing.  But I only started reading him after I went to college, around 18 or 19.

I remember thinking at the time of reading Wilson's book that his dim view of Crowley didn't seem to accord with the witty intelligence manifested by the Crowley quotes he was quoting, and this prevented me from making a firm decision about Crowley yea or nay at the time, just from what I'd read up to that point; which is partly what made me interested in actually reading Crowley when I found some (big bookshops in big city).

I was also in the lucky (or unlucky) position of having had some mystical experiences as a kid, so when I came across Eight Lectures, I could immediately tell, just from the way he was writing about it, that AC had experienced something along similar lines, and that made me much more interested in him and much more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt against nay-sayers from then on.


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belmurru
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28/02/2014 5:49 pm  

I'm very happy that some of the denizens are still responding - it will inspire me to do more polls! Thank you all who have responded, as well as the anonymous voters.

The numbers clearly show a late-teen bias, and, more extendedly, into the early 20s. The age-group 17 to 19 is the highest concentration with 14 responses, coincident with independence, leaving home for work or school, etc.

The age of 22 stands out among the early 20s with 5 responses. When taken as a whole, the age group "young adulthood", 17 to 24, has 24 out of the 32 responses, or exactly 75 percent. I imagine this would be the trend. Although, I am edified that of the early teens, 13 far outweighs the others - I suppose it is a memorable year in any respect.

Our outlier in age is RHK418, who began at 31 with the Book of the Law.

Now, with RHK418, we can note THREE guys that started with The Book of the Law - Me, N.O.X, and RHK418.

SEVEN of you started with Magick In Theory and Practice - MichaelClarke18, Joe93, Paul Toner, WilliamThirteen, Threefold31, Hamal, and Tiger.

THREE of you started with the Confessions - Michael Staley, Horemakhet, and jdes. As in my last summary, jdes keeps to the intriguing trend - you all started at the same age - 19! Isn't that interesting?

TWO guys, Los and arthuremerson, started with 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings,

We now have FOUR mavericks:

Lutz with Diary of a Drug Fiend
gurugeorge with Eight Lectures on Yoga
Jamie with The Magical Record of the Beast 666
Andrew with Liber Aleph.

obscuruspaintus is tricky, he could be a Book of the Law guy or a complete maverick with Little Essays, and the Sangreal Holy Books.

Magick in Theory and Practice, in a number of its editions, is the clear frontrunner.

Maybe it has something to do with availability? As well as the innate fascination it provokes by its intricacy, and its combination of self-referentiality and suggestions of so much else out there that simply must be known to be understood.


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threefold31
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28/02/2014 9:31 pm  
"belmurru" wrote:
Magick in Theory and Practice, in a number of its editions, is the clear frontrunner.

Maybe it has something to do with availability? As well as the innate fascination it provokes by its intricacy, and its combination of self-referentiality and suggestions of so much else out there that simply must be known to be understood.

Dwtw

I would think all of the above is pertinent, especially the last part. For myself, I don't think Liber Aleph, e.g., if it were my first book, would have spurred me on to read others. But Confessions undoubtedly would. And MITP obviously did 🙂

Litluw
RLG


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Anonymous
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02/03/2014 2:54 pm  
"threefold31" wrote:
I don't think Liber Aleph, e.g., if it were my first book, would have spurred me on to read others. But Confessions undoubtedly would. And MITP obviously did 🙂

Just got a new copy of Liber Aleph to replace my long lost one. It was great seeing the cover design again. Remarkably, there is actually a reviewer on Amazon who states, "If you have never read any Crowley works this may be a good start." Well, as you point out, it didn't motivate me to investigate further. Of course, as I mentioned before, when I first read it, the Internet bubble was just expanding and we were pre-Wikipedia, so I didn't have a lot of convenient options for further study. Having read Kaczynski's Perdurabo and The Weiser Concise Guide, I would be hard pressed to recommend any other books as an introduction to Crowley. I feel that I can approach Crowley's corpus with much more context and insight now.


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Michael Staley
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02/03/2014 3:27 pm  

Liber Aleph was one of the first of Crowley's books I read, when a friend of mine sent me a copy of the Germer first edition that he'd come across. Although a little difficult to follow at first due to the archaic English and the capitalisation of the first letter of nouns, I found it an exciting and suggestive book, perhaps because I already had a background in eastern mysticism. It remains a favourite of mine, coming from the years which I regard as Crowley's best period, the time in America which threw up such gems as the Amalantrah Working, the rearrangement of and comment upon the Tao Teh Ching, and the comment on Blavatsky's The Voice of the Silence.


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 Anonymous
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02/03/2014 5:46 pm  

First indirect exposure – about age 10, I randomly bought a copy of Warrior magazine at a school jumble sale. It contained V for Vendetta and this issue was the one where V explains V.V.V.V.V. The concept behind the motto had appeal enough to stick in the mind.

Second indirect exposure – about age 17, asking a friend who Ozzy Osbourne was singing about. ‘Some kind of Satanist I think’ was the reply.

Later - Doing art at university I was interested in visual symbolism and attempts to graphically map concepts (eg. tree of life) but the interest was pretty superficial. A tutor happened to have a copy of Magick at college. I asked to borrow it, intrigued that a serious book on the subject existed by someone who thought it was true. Had a flick through and couldn’t make head or tail of it (gematria to the ignorant of course just looks like rubbish, in fact I vaguely remember thinking it resembled a letter written by a person with mental health issues I had been shown). But I was intrigued enough to go to the library and found an article about Crowley in a magazine that essentially said he felt guilty about being gay and taking drugs and so made up a load of mumbo-jumbo to justify it. I thought ‘Well that makes sense then’ and gave Magick back to my tutor.

At the age of 31 I noticed someone at work was reading a biography of Crowley. I asked to borrow it thinking it’d be a fun read. I must have realised it was of a questionable quality because having read it I sought a better one. I think Perdurabo had just been released so I bought that, read it and enjoyed it (although a little dry in places for a complete newbie).

That meant I was hooked – I went and bought Liber ABA (Big blue) from Atlantis bookshop, read it from cover to cover. And here I still am. I just thought I'd add to the 'started later' brigade.

Also - At some point in all this Promethea gave me a key to a way of thinking about it all that made it more acceptable to me. I had been reading Alan Moore for years, and with hindsight he has a lot to answer for…


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belmurru
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02/03/2014 6:19 pm  

Great story, Old Hairy! It sounds like you got jabbed a few times before the medicine took.

Thanks for adding to the "late bloomers" number. I'm very interested in how mature minds take to Crowley. For myself, my innocence or naïveté, as well as the sponge-like quality of the young brain, were crucial in allowing me to mature with him. It is impossible for me to imagine my life without Crowley in it; he formed my character and direction my life took from age 13 - every part of it. I can't imagine how or who I'd be without him having come into it. There is hardly a "before Crowley" to speak of.


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lashtal
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02/03/2014 6:31 pm  

I was going to add a bit of personal reflection to this thread but I see that Belmurru has written it all for me!

"belmurru" wrote:
Thanks for adding to the "late bloomers" number. I'm very interested in how mature minds take to Crowley. For myself, my innocence or naïveté, as well as the sponge-like quality of the young brain, were crucial in allowing me to mature with him. It is impossible for me to imagine my life without Crowley in it; he formed my character and direction my life took from age 13 - every part of it. I can't imagine how or who I'd be without him having come into it. There is hardly a "before Crowley" to speak of.

Yep, that just about sums up my own experience, too. Not a day has passed since aged 13 that I haven't read something by or about AC - I'm 51 now.

Owner and Editor
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Markus
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02/03/2014 8:36 pm  

From the age of 17 to 23 I was mesmerised, tantalised and deeply influenced by Crowley. Following a magic accident I dropped AC completely for 10 years. Once I got back to him, he was no longer tantalising or mesmerising, nor did he influence me much. It was a bit like putting on a pair of old shoes: very pleasant and comfortable. Since then I seem to have a far deeper understanding of AC. Though the fun and joy have waned, the appreciation has grown immensely.

Markus


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William Thirteen
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02/03/2014 9:53 pm  

magic accident

oh, the old 'karma ran over my dogma' kind of accident? 😉

my experience is somewhat similar to yours Markus, having left the field behind for over a decade. But by that time it was already too late, AC & his blasted Book having already taken root in the brain. Such that even in my years of wandering the waste i still opened my diary entries with '93'.  Where will it all end?


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Anonymous
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03/03/2014 2:23 am  

Late Bloomer. Likely around 23, circa 1994, a housemate who was a chemical engineer at Chevron, we bonded over RAW's "Prometheus Rising", and he had a copy of Book IV in his collection.

Incidentally, today I bought an out-of-print paperback of The Book of Thoth. It is published by Lancer, which went out of business in the early seventies. No date of publication or copyright information. Wasserman's biography never mentions Lancer, so if anyone has some definitive information about this lineage of published, I'd appreciate it.

M


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Anonymous
 Anonymous
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03/03/2014 3:15 am  
"Markus" wrote:
Following a magic accident

Could someone define what a "magic accident" is for me? Pardon my ignorance. Feel free to PM me if you don't want to insert it into the thread.

I find that being older has helped me approach Crowley in a much more serious way. I now have the scholarship skills necessary to tackle his more difficult poetic works. I don't know if I would have had the patience at 17 or 18.


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david1
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03/03/2014 5:57 am  

I was 18/19, and the Basilisk Bookshop (in Melbourne, Australia) had only opened a year or two before (1997?). They listed their current titles on a (very simple) website which I stumbled across one evening, after pursuing Crowley's name by way of Kenneth Anger.

As I'd only read Colin Wilson's pedestrian Crowley biography up to that point (this was before online trade became mainstream), the range of Crowleyana and related titles regularly posted for sale on the Basilisk site was quite something, and the shop itself was a terrific introduction to bibliophilia more generally. I recall immediately buying the Arkana edition of The Confessions and the New Falcon release of Magick Without Tears, and subsequently most of Crowley's key works (in cheap, and not-so-cheap, editions).

Indeed, to this day I regret not buying a complete (and near-mint) set of the Weiser The Equinox 1970s reprints the shop had available for some time - but $1,000 was simply beyond my reach back then. I'm still after them! 🙂


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Markus
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03/03/2014 5:25 pm  
"Andrew " wrote:
"Markus" wrote:
Following a magic accident

Could someone define what a "magic accident" is for me? Pardon my ignorance. Feel free to PM me if you don't want to insert it into the thread.

I find that being older has helped me approach Crowley in a much more serious way. I now have the scholarship skills necessary to tackle his more difficult poetic works. I don't know if I would have had the patience at 17 or 18.

p.m. sent.

Markus


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jamie barter
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03/03/2014 5:52 pm  
"Markus" wrote:
"Andrew " wrote:
"Markus" wrote:
Following a magic accident

Could someone define what a "magic accident" is for me? Pardon my ignorance. Feel free to PM me if you don't want to insert it into the thread.

I find that being older has helped me approach Crowley in a much more serious way. I now have the scholarship skills necessary to tackle his more difficult poetic works. I don't know if I would have had the patience at 17 or 18.

p.m. sent.
Markus

That’s most ‘tantalising and mesmerising’ of you, Markus!  I may be in danger of not being able to get to sleep tonite for a-wonderin’ what could it have been?!

Just joking, 😉
N Joy


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Brigitte Gorez Santos
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02/11/2014 1:02 pm  

Just because Belmurru mentioned the lack of female respondents, I thought I'd add my two cents.  😉

I first read something by Crowley at the age of 22 when I was offered the Thoth Tarot as a present. As a teenager I had been using the Tarot of Marseilles but I became totally fascinated with the Thoth Tarot. I loved everything about it, the illustrations as well as the explanations. I then decided to learn more about Crowley and if memory serves me well, I then bought Magick in Theory and Practice. And later, The Great Beast, which led to my correspondence and meetings with John Symonds.

I am now 42 and have read quite a few of AC's books (MWT, Book of the Law, Book of lies...) as well as his poetry (White Stains), plays (The World's Tragedy), prose (the Simon Iff stories, Moonchild) and a dozen biographies (The Hag, Symonds, Grant, Churton, Booth, Kaczynski). I am fond of the man in his middle and old age, I like his Simon Iff persona and the elderly AC recounted by Kenneth Grant. I like the less well known aspects of his career like the fact that he would have liked to open an Indian restaurant, the cocktail recipes etc... I wish more of his recipes had survived like the Crowley rice (which I have tried and is delicious).

To go back to the 'lack of female respondents', I have noticed as well that not many females tend to post on the forums, the only one I am aware of being Hecate. I was looking forward to share and compare experiences with her but it looks like she has not posted anything since the end of last year. It is a shame, I read of her battle to save the Abbey of Thelema and her Lighthouse ritual with great interest.


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ignant666
(@ignant666)
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02/11/2014 1:25 pm  

Well, recently of course, you have joined us, and also Tao has been quite active of late.
As to beginning reading AC, I think about age 11 with a paperback Confessions, as best as I can recall more than 40 years later.
I had decided I was a Thelemite by 13-14 and definitely had AL, a Thoth deck, MITP, and a Blue Equinox by 14, and had read The Book Of Lies, Moonchild and Diary Of A Dope Fiend in addition to having read Confessions several times by that point.
At puberty, a new Samuel Weiser catalog in the mail was as exciting to me as a new Playboy.


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Brigitte Gorez Santos
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02/11/2014 2:06 pm  

Oh I didn't know Tao was female! Has anyone remained in touch with Hecate outside the forums?


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