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This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hallowe'en Countdown 11: The Fake Mystic

 Crowley as a young man.

There have been some pretty great mystic frauds, or other occultist fakes, spiritualists or soothsayers who falsely commune with the supernatural, out there over the years. Mother Shipton. John Dee. A host of False Messiahs. Christian Rosenkreuz. Nostradamus. Nicholas Culpeper. Madame la VoisinEmanuel Swendenbourg. The Count of St. Germain. Count Alessandro di Cagliostro. Sir Francis Dashwood. Adam Weishaupt. Franz Mesmer. Francis Barrett. Marie Laveau. The Fox Sisters. Eliphas Levi. Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Daniel Dunglas Home. Cheiro. Albert PikePaschal Beverly Randolph. Madame Blavatsky. Max Heindel. Grigori RasputinGeorge Gurdjieff. Eva Carriere. Rudolf von SebottendorfEdgar Cayce. Wilhelm Reich. Dion Fortune. Harvey Spencer Lewis. Margaret Murray. Uri Geller. George and Kathy Lutz. Ed and Lorraine WarrenL. Ron Hubbard. Anton LaVey.

Some readers may disagree with this list, but the people here have all been seriously challenged with regard to their claims of psychic or mystical power, or regarding the authenticity of their spiritual experiences.  It comes with the territory.  Harry Houdini, the great illusionist and magician, notably challenged, investigated and debunked many of his 'psychic' contemporaries.  His stunts were incredible, but they were never labeled as more than that.  It takes some conviction to pull off Houdini's level of trickery, but proclaim it to be real, a result of communing with a world beyond our own. Living as a False Prophet is not easy.

None of these characters - except perhaps Lord Byron - could hold a candle to Aleister Crowley.

Some critics attribute Crowley's activities to a serious childhood injury with an exploding firework. After the accident, which left him in a coma, he awoke with the trademark unbridled vanity and occult interests that later convinced followers.  It takes incredible egotistical authority, a great deal of esoteric knowledge, and sheer raw power of spirit, to pull off the kind of fakery that leaves behind throngs of followers, worshiping new gods.

Plenty of people take Aleister Crowley seriously as a modern pioneer in the occult philosophies.  Others say he was a fraud.  Was he really "the wickedest man in the world?" - the self-proclaimed "Great Beast"?  He indulged in a wide variety of drugs, self-harm, scatalogical activities, and weird magical rites to get to the other side, which you can read about at this very critical site, or this one.  Whether that made him an actual seer, sorcerer, psychic or dark spiritual leader is debatable.  It might all have been one giant act of mind-boggling self-indulgence.  His critics think he was simply psychotic.  C. J. Stone writes: "That theatrical old occultist of the early 20th century, Aleister Crowley, had a slogan. It was: 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.'"  He dug around in archaic and pre-Christian lore, superstitions, masonic material, eastern philosophies to back up that basic tenet.  He had a hyper-modern, almost artistic, sense of dramatic symbolism and semiotics.  People who follow his ideas are known as Thelemites (you can see an informal, sympathetic forum comment on Crowley from a Thelemite here).  He had an enormous impact on Postmodern New Age philosophies, cults and non-mainstream religions.

But personally, I feel that Crowley was a person who got very, very far with an almost bottomless bad character and a lot of ego.

Crowley later in life.
The Abbey of Thelema, Corfù, Sicily, namesake of Crowley's philosophy. Image (February 2004) by Frater Kybernetes via Wiki.

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  1. Charlie Manson, anyone?

    I'll have to look up the Thelemites. Have em go head to head with the Scientologists, maybe. Ha. -J

  2. Crowley was more charismatic than Manson, who was obviously crazy. Crowley did unspeakable things, but had veneer. I think you will not have to search too far to find connections between Crowley and Hubbard.

  3. I am a Witch I am of the old ways. I use Herbs & Oils for medicinal purposes to help people. I travel a spiritual path & believe unlike Crowley you can not simply "do as thou will" I think personally Crowley was a complete nutter or as you so politely say psychotic. I have been to many so called "Pagan Moots" only to discover "people" who tell me they are Thelemites I groan & sigh & yes loudly. These people should not be at a Pagan Moot they should be educated & given some medication if needed. Crowley, Gardner, Saunders, Valiente the lot of them they are not true Witches! They should have stuck to Amateur Dramatics tellingly of which all of them were involved in before they got involved with the Occult & "Magic" as they think it is (at this point Im thinking of them & several other Pretender Pagans & Weekend Wiccas who pervert old crafts & beliefs for their own warped gratification as I think on I groan a little louder!) I applaud you on your blog Crowley should never be held us an an example of Magick for anyone he truly knew nothing of the Magick of real Witches. That of the human soul which we all possess it may be far less exciting than what he preached but its truer.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Anon! "Weekend Wiccas" - that's pretty good. Crowley was a nasty piece of work. He was part of what made everything worse. The only reasonable thing about him would be that he would likely agree with that statement.