The story of Aleister Crowley, Magician
A reading in two acts adapted and scored for four voices by Douglas Lockhart fromThe Confessions of Aleister Crowley (autobiography), and The Great Beast (biography) by John Symonds.
PART ONE – TOWARDS THE GOLDEN DAWN
Some large black and white photographs of Alister Crowley ranging from early youth to his later years backing the readers. A smallish venue is to be preferred – no microphones. Four lecterns of not too imposing a structure are necessary to centre the piece and give it a touch of formality.
VOICE ONE: (Quote) “We shall take all necessary steps”, said the Chairman of the committee for the Brighton County Council crematorium, “to prevent such an incident occurring again.” (Symonds/456)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration)
5 December, 1947. A cold, grey afternoon. The body of Aleister Crowley, black occultist, poet, playright, journalist, philosopher, womaniser, chess player, mountain climber extraordinaire; blackguard, degenerate, possible cannibal and self-proclaimed saint, is about to go up in smoke. Everything (for once), is under control.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Well, not quite. Enter an old friend of Crowley’s, Louis Wilkinson. He mounts the rostrum univited and immediately begins to recite the Hymn of Pan, one of Crowley’s better poems. (Symonds/455)
VOICE THREE: (Softly intoned)
Thrill with lissome lust of the light,
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Throughout his life, Crowley had imagined his death as a wholly fantastic event, a grand finale executed with magical precision. The world, awe struck and gladened by his having existed, would beat their breasts at his passing and allow him to be buried in Westminister Abbey without question or quibble.
Io Pan! Io Pan! Come over the sea
VOICE THREE: (Narration) But it wasn’t the Hymn to Pan that bothered the Brighton County Council; it was Crowley’s Gnostic Requiem, blasted out to remind everyone present that they were burying a magician, an Ipsissimus, a communicator with, and a controller of, demons and occult intelligences.
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Aleister Crowley – with an ‘e’ before the ‘i’ for purposes magical and obscure.
VOICE THREE: (Narration) Born the 12th day of October, 1874, at Clarendon Square, Leamington, Warwickshire – between eleven and twelve at night.
(other actors look at VOICE THREE expectantly)
VOICE THREE: (As an after thought) With Leo rising.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Died 1947, aged seventy-two in a rather seedy room, his magic wand resting in a corner, on the wall a painting of himself as The Beast 666 – an idealised self-portrait.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) A man of unusual imagination and views.
VOICE THREE: (as Crowley) “To me the spiritual world consists roughly of the Trinity and their angels on the one side; the devil and his on the other.”
VOICE TWO: (as Crowley) “In the Upanishads all manifested existence is Maya (looks around) – pure illusion.”
VOICE THREE: (as Crowley) “There is no satisfactory explanation of the appearance of the illusion. In Christianity evil is just as real as good.”
VOICE TWO: (as Crowley/resigned air) “Since I must take sides with one party or another, it is not difficult for me to make up my mind. My first step must be to get into personal communication . . . with the devil.”
VOICE ONE: (as Crowley)
“I Perdurabo, Frater Ordinis Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis, a Lord of the Paths in the portal of the Vault of the Adepts . . . do this day spiritually bind myself anew . . .”
VOICE FOUR: (Cont-) “By the Sword of vengence . . .”
VOICE ONE: (Cont-) “By the Powers of the Elements . . .”
VOICE FOUR: (Cont-) “By the Cross of Suffering . . .”
VOICE ONE: (as Crowley) “. . . That I will devote myself to the Great Work: the obtaining of Communion with my own Higher and Divine Genius (called the Guardian Angel) by means of the prescribed course; and that I will use my Power so obtained . . . unto the Redemption of the Universe. (Con/184)
VOICE FOUR: (Very slowly) Thrill with lissome lust of the light, O man! My man!
VOICE THREE: (Narration) A man in the tradition of Dr. John Dee, Cagliostro, Count Saint-Germain, Eliphas Levi and Madam Blavatsky. To be found standing between an Indian Guru and Mae West in a composite photograph of ‘People we Like’ on the cover sleeve of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Born into the unbelievably strict religious sect of the Plymouth Brethern. A sect founded by John Nelson Darby, an Irish clergyman and ex barrister about 1830. (Con/7/Symonds 23)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) They believed they were the only true Christians.
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) They believed that Christ’s second Coming was imminent, that only the Elect (themselves) would inherit the Kingdom of God.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Out of this background emerged Alister Crowley, a little Christian knight unable to conceive of the existence of people so foolish or wicked to doubt that Plymouthism was not the true faith.
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) By the age of four he could read perfectly well. The strange thing about this was not so much his precocity as the fact that he was much less interested in the Biblical narratives than in the Hebrew names: E-noch, Ar-phax-ad, Ma-ha-leel. (Con/14)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) A great love and respect for his father. His mother despised and scorned and treated like a servant.
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Private tutors at six; at eight, taken by his father to his first school – St Leonards. An evangelical school, and very strict.
VOICE THREE: (Narration) A man named Hemmings teaches Alick chess, and loses every game after the first
VOICE TWO: (Narration) From St Leonard’s to a school run by the Plymouth Brethern where he strives, like his father, to be a most devoted follower of Jesus.
VOICE THREE: (Narration) He at the same time manages to take first prize in Religious Knowledge, Classics and French, and begins to write poetry.
VOICE ONE: (With a terrible innocence)
Terror, and darkness, and horrid despair!
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Edward Crowley dies March 5, 1887.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) From the moment of the funeral the boy’s life enters an entirely different phase. The change is radical. Within three weeks of his return to school he gets into trouble for a first time. This appears to have been the first symptom of a complete reversal of his attitude to life in every respect. (Con/28)
VOICE FOUR: (as Crowley)
“Christ’s a fable,” he tells a relative home from Australia because of bad health. “There’s no such thing as sin. You ought to thank your lucky stars that you’ve managed to live most of your life away from this hypocritical crew of trembling slaves.” (Con/33)
VOICE TWO: Shades of things to come.
VOICE THREE: Patagonia.
VOICE ONE: A book on a bookstall.
VOICE FOUR: ‘Across Patagonia’ by Lady Florence Dixie.
VOICE THREE: Fascinated by the long name. Pat-a-gon-i-a . . .
VOICE FOUR: (as Crowley/reverie)
VOICE TWO: From good boy to bad boy.
VOICE FOUR: From God to Satan.
VOICE ONE: (as Crowley) “My falling away from Grace was not occasioned by any intellectual qualms; I accepted the theology of the Plymouth Brethern. In fact, I could hardly conceive of the existence of people who might doubt it. But I found myself as passionately eager to serve my new master as I had been to serve the old. I was in fact anxious to distinguish myself by commiting sin.” (Con/44)
VOICE TWO: (as Crowley) “Here again my attitude was extraordinarily subtle. I wanted a supreme spiritual sin; and I had not the smallest idea how to set about it. There was a good deal of morbid curiosity about ‘the sin against the Holy Ghost’ which ‘could never be forgiven’, but nobody knew what it was.” (Con/44)
VOICE THREE: (as Crowley) “The idea seems to have been that it was an ill-natured practical joke on the part of Jesus. The mysterious offence which could never be forgiven might be inadvertently committed by the greatest saint alive, with the result that he would be bowled out at the very gate of glory.” (Con/44)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) So he has to find out, if possible, what that sin is and do it very thoroughly. Why? Because he is in a very precarious position. He is opposed to an omnipotent God; but for all he knows that God might have predestined him to be saved! No matter how much he disbelieves in Jesus, no matter how many crimes he piles up, God might get him in spite of himself. The only possibility of outwitting his mother and father’s God is to bring him up against His own pledge that the sin against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven, then get a certificate from the recording angel that he has duly done it.” (Con/44)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) In search of a suitable sin which might earn him the diabolical V.C., young Crowley frequents the boys whose reputation for wickedness is best established, but finds nothing there but further unintelligible mystery – the reign of terror is so firmly in place throughout the school that nobody dare tell him the outright nature of this sin, even when knowledge of it is admitted. (Con/45)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Mysterious hints are given; and at last a boy named Gibson tells him what action to make; but he does not tell him to what object to apply the process. (Con/45)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) It may seem extraordinary that nature should not have afforded Crowley an indication of what was meant, but he fails to make the connection, and carries out experiments based on ideas which afford him no results whatsoever, in fact the discovery of what is actually meant will be delayed for years. (Con/45)
VOICE ONE: Confusion.
VOICE THREE: (Narration) A Hymn of quite acceptable Christian piety written by Crowley in 1894.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Nothing to read but two books of Scott and Dickens. Ballantyne approved of and G. A. Hinty winked at. David Copperfield banned.The Ancient Mariner banned because he blesses snakes unawares – snakes are cursed in Genesis. (Con/56)
VOICE FOUR: (as Crowley) “It seemed as if I possessed a theology of my own which was, to all intents and purposes, Christianity. My satanism did not interfere with it at all; I was trying to take the view that the Christianity of hypocrisy and cruelty was not true Christianity. I did not hate God or Christ, but merely the God and Christ of the people I hated. It was only when the development of my logical faculties supplied the demonstration that the scriptures support the theology and practice of professing Christians that I was compelled to set myself in opposition to the Bible itself.” (Con/51)
VOICE THREE: (as Crowley) “When I eventually learnt how to use my astral eyes and ears, there was no confusion; the other world had certain correspondences with our own, but it was perfectly distinct.” (Con/51)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Crowley’s uncle Tom makes the mistake of engaging a tutor named Archibald Douglas – for Crowley, a very fortunate mistake indeed. (Con/53)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) From the moment they are alone, Douglas produces a complete revolution in Crowley’s outlook; he shows him, for a first time, a sane, clear, jolly world worth living in. (Con/53)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Uncle Tom appears, gets Douglas out of the way, rifles his belongings, steals his private letters and dismisses him. (Con/54)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) But it’s too late. The young Crowley’s eyes have been opened – he has become as a god knowing good and evil. (Con/54)
VOICE ONE: Poetry.
VOICE TWO: (as Crowley) “I could never tolerate smooth, insipid beauty. It was only when I was among the crags that I was happy. I demanded to be at grips with death in one way or another. The bourgeois ambition to get through life without unpleasantness seemed to me the lowest vilness and entirely in keeping with the moral attitude of the heavenly people in Paradise Lost.” (Con/60)
VOICE THREE: Aleister Crowley: poet.
VOICE FOUR: In the hospital bed she lay
EVERYONE: Rotting away!
VOICE FOUR: Cursing by night and cursing by day,
EVERYONE: Rotting away!
EVERYONE: Rotting away.
VOICE FOUR: In the horrible grave she lay,
EVERYONE: Rotting away!
VOICE FOUR: Rotting by night, and rotting by day,
EVERYONE: Rotting away!
EVERYONE: (Softly) Rotting away . . .
VOICE ONE: (as Crowley) “I could not see any sense in pretending that life was not full of horrors. Paganism is wholesome because it faces the facts of life; but I was not allowed to take a normal view of nature. In my situation, I could not dismiss the falsities of Christianity with a smile; I was compelled to fight fire with fire and oppose their poisoned poultices with poisoned daggers.” (Con/62)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Public school. Malvern; then Tonbridge. Not a happy period for the young Crowley. (Con/66)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Only happy when he’s climbing: Scafell Pikes. Helvellyn. Skiddaw. Saddleback. The Great Naples Needle. (Con/68)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Crowley’s poetry of this period is either amorous or satirical, or both.
VOICE FOUR: Then comes the twist.
VOICE THREE: (With gusto)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) It took years for his revolt to wear out. He clung to the idea of the wicknedness of love and the idea that it entailed divine retribution. (Con/74)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Why? Because he wanted to add value to sin. Everything had to be spiced with moral satisfaction. Christianity had to be reluctantly held on to; there was no fun in fighting it if it were all nonsense? (Con/74)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) His hatred for his mother also led to a thoroughly jaundiced view of women.
VOICE TWO: (as Crowley) “The most dominant mood of woman will always be motherhood. Nature itself, therefore, insures that a man who relies on a woman to help him is bucking the tiger. At any moment, without warning, her interest in him may be swept off its feet and become secondary. Worse – she will expect her man to abandon the whole interest of his life in order to look after her new toy!” (Con/78)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) With no opportunity of preparing the set classics, Crowley passes the exams for Trinity College without difficulty, and on October 1 goes up to Cambridge, taking rooms at 16 St John’s Street.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) From that moment begins an entirely new chapter in his life, a life so extraordinary that it will earn him the title of the most evil man in the world.
VOICE THREE: Childe Roland to the dark tower came . . .
VOICE ONE: (Narration) These words were as real to Crowley as the battle of Waterloo. (Con/107)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) He deduces from the nature of things that life is a sacrament; in other words, all our acts are magical acts. Our spiritual consciousness acts through the will and its instruments upon material objects, in order to produce changes which will result in the establishing of the new conditions of consciousness which we wish. That is his definition of magic.” (Con/110)
VOICE TWO: (as Crowley) “What I wanted was a manual of technical instruction.”
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) From a friend comes The Book of Black Magic & of Pacts. Judging by the title, just what he needed.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) One statement in this book catches Crowley’s eye. (Con/112)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) A Hidden Church withdrawn from the world in whose sanctuaries are preserved the true mysteries of initiation. (Con/112)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) A letter to the author elicits the suggestion that he should read The Cloud Upon the Sanctuary by Councillor von Eckarts-hausen. (Con/113)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) He acquires a copy and retires with it for the Easter vacation of 1898. This moment proves to be the critical moment of his early life, for he is soon able to say . . . (Con/113)
VOICE ONE: (as Crowley) “If we are ever to do anything, it can only be by the manipulation of those spiritual forces which lie behind the consciousness of which the universe of matter is but a symbolic phantasm.” (Con/114)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) During his three years at Cambridge, Crowley’s literary faculties make sudden strides. In characteristic fashion he refers to his first published poem as the summit of his Parnassus at one bound. (Con/126)
VOICE TWO: (as Crowley) “I have never written anything better. Its technical excellence is remarkable and it is the pure expression of my unconscious self.” (Con/126)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) He was at the same time playing chess and beating some of the finest players in England. (Con/128)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) But decides to stop playing chess and concentrate on magic. (Con/28)
VOICE TWO: (Throw away line) And sex.
VOICE THREE: (as Crowley) “My sexual life was intense. My relations with women were entirely satisfactory. They gave me the maximum bodily enjoyment and at the same time symbolised my theological notions of sin. Love was a challenge to Christianity. Every woman that I met enabled me to affirm magically that I had defied the tyranny of the Plymouth Bretheren and the Evangelicals.” (Con/130)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Councillor von Eckarts-hausen’s book tells him of a secret church, a secret community of saints, the members of which enjoy intimate communion with the immanent divine soul of nature. To them, the incarnation is a mystical or magical operation which takes place in every man. Each is himself a Son of God who has assumed a body of flesh and blood in order to perform the work of redemption. (Con/135)
VOICE FOUR: (as Crowley/laughs)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) So he determines to make himself worthy to attract the notice of this mysterious brotherhood. For he can imagine nothing more exquisite than to enter into communion with these holy men and to acquire the power of communicating with the angelic and divine intelligences of the universe. (Con/135)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) His poetry is now charged with these aspirations: Song of the Spirit, The Quest, The Alchemist, The Philosopher’s Progress, Succubus, Vespers, Astrology and Daedalus each express his idea about the ordeals which might be expected on the path. (Con/135)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Crowley’s unique vision surfaces at this point. He tells us without a blush that the only adequate way to overcome evil is to utilise it fully as a means of grace. (Con/136)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) He goes to some pains to explain what he means by this.
VOICE FOUR: (as Crowley) “When St. Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient,” he only went half way. One ought to leave no form of energy to rust. Every particle of one’s personality is a necessary factor in the equation and every impulse must be turned to account in the Great Work.”
VOICE TWO: (Narration) It was around this time that he stumbled on a book called The Kabbalah Unveiled , by S.L. Mathers. Not understanding a word of it, but fascinated for that very reason, this book becomes his constant study while on the glaciers. (Con/156)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) On the publication of his first play – Jephthah – Crowley is accused by the critics of being too heavily influenced by Swinburne – the play is passionately dedicated to Swinburne. He rebukes his critics by saying that if at that time a new writer manifested any sense of rhythm, he was automatically classified as an imitator of Swinburne, if any capacity for thought, then an imitator of Browning. (Con/157)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) He then takes a swipe at W.B.Yeats.
VOICE ONE: (as Crowley) “I have always been nauseated by pretentiousness; and the Celtic revival, so-called, had all the mincing, posturing qualities of the literary Plymouth Brethern. They pretended to think it an unpardonable crime not to speak Irish, though they could not speak it themselves; and they worked in their mealymouthed way towards the galvanization of the political, ethnological and literary corpse of the Irish nation. Ireland has been badly treated, we all know; but her only salvation lay in forgetting her nonsense.” (Con/158)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Yeats said that he thought Crowley mad, and that amid much bad rhetoric, he had written about six lines of good poetry. (Symonds/52)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Like Byron, Shelly, Swinburne and Tennyson, Crowley leaves university without taking a degree. (Con/158)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) A friend introduces Crowley to the Welsh Magician George Cecil Jones. Jones quickly realises that Crowley has a tremendous natural capacity for Magick; he suggests that he join the same Hermetic Order – the Order of the Golden Dawn. Crowley is initiated on 18 December, 1898. (Con/167/169)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) The Golden dawn was an occult brotherhood divided into three parts, of which only the first, or Outer Order, carried the title of the Golden Dawn. When members reached the next grade, they passed into the Order of the Red Rose and Golden Cross. Three other grades existed: Magister Templi, Magus, and Ipsissimus. These grades came within the order of the Silver Star. (Symonds/147)
VOICE THREE: (as Crowley/confidently) “I began my practical work with astral visions, and found to my surprise that after half a dozen experiments I was better than my teacher.” (Con/166)
VOICE ONE: (as Crowley) I took the Order with absolute seriousness. I remember asking whether people often died during the ceremony. I had no idea that it was a flat formality and that the members were for the most part muddled middle-class mediocrities. I saw myself entering the Hidden Church of the Holy Grail. This state of my soul served me well – my initiation was in fact a sacrament.” (Con/169)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) So much for the Order of the Golden Dawn.
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) With the name “Perdurabo”, Crowley takes the grade of Zelator in December, of Theoricus in January and of Practicus in February. He cannot proceed to Philosophus for three months, so does not take that grade till May. And as a Philosophus cannot proceed to the Second Order in less than seven months, and only then by invitation, he has to cool his enthusiasm and await recognition.” (Con/171)
VOICE TWO: His biographer . . .
VOICE ONE: John Symonds.
VOICE TWO: Has something to say about this series of advancements.
VOICE ONE: (With a sneer) “He certainly did better in the Golden Dawn than at Trinity College where, after three years’ study, he was given no degree at all.” (Symonds/36)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) During this period Crowley moves to a flat in Chancery Lane under the name Count Vladimir Svareff – it was a habit of Crowley’s to take on exotic names and study (so he says) the reaction of others. He settles in and starts preparing to perform a magical rite called the Operation of Abra-Melin the Mage – this necessitates that he cut himself off from everyone for six months and follow a prescribed set of magical rules. But he can’t get going on this until he has undergone his initiation. (Symonds/38)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) During a ceremony of the Order of the Golden Dawn in the Spring of 1899, something very important happens to Crowley, he suddenly becomes aware of a tremendous spiritual and magical force in the room – it seems to emmanate from a man he has not seen before. While unrobing after the ceremony, this man . . .
VOICE THREE: Allan Bennett.
ACTOR ONE: (Cont-) “. . . makes straight for Crowley, looks into his eyes, and says in a penetrating and menacing tone: Little Brother, you have been meddling with the Goetia!” (Con/171)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Goetia means ‘howling’, and is the technical word employed to cover all the operations of that Magick which deals with gross, malignant or unenlightened forces. (Con/171)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Crowley timerously denies having done any such thing, and Bennett returns with: In that case, the Goetia has been meddling with you. (Con/171)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) The conversation goes no further; Crowley returns home somewhat chastened in spirit.
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) But not for long; he has found the man he has been looking for – a real Magician, he suspects – and has no intentions of letting such an opportunity go by without a follow up. He describes Bennett as . . .
VOICE THREE: “ . . . a pure mind, piercing and profound beyond any other I have experienced. (Con/171)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) But Bennett is not a well man – he is ill with asthma, which he relieves with opium, morphine and cocaine – and is soon off abroad to a warmer climate for the sake of his health. Bereft of his Holy Guru, Crowley concentrates on the rite of Abra-Melin the Mage.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) In magic there have always been two schools, one invoking the forces of good, the other the forces of evil – white and black magic. Abra-Melin teaches that the good, or Angelic, forces are superior in power to the bad, or satanic forces; and that the latter, as a punishment, have to serve the former. All material effects, all phenomena are the result of the actions of evil spirits working under the direction of good ones. (Symonds/37)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) And sometimes the other way round, for bad spirits occasionally manage to escape and, revengfully, do what harm they can. (Symonds/37)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) These satanic forces conclude pacts with men and hold them in their power as Mephistopheles held Dr. Faustus; for man is the middle nature between angels and demons, and has attendant upon him a Holy Guardian Angel and a Malevolent demon. (Symonds/37)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Crowley had two temples in his flat; one white, the walls being lined with six huge mirrors, each six feet by eight; the other black, a mere cupboard in which stood an altar supported by the figure of a negro standing on his hands. According to Crowley, magical phenomena were a constant occurrence in these temples. (Con/175)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) It is said that when Crowley left this flat, and everything was dismantled, the atmosphere remained. Workmen, we are told, were put out of action. Casual callers would faint or be seized with dizziness or cramps on the staircase. It was a long time before the rooms could be re-let. (Con/176)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) At the end of August, 1899, Crowley moves to the south-east side of Lock Ness, in Scotland, and settles down to get everything in working order for the Great Operation of Abra-Melin. The rite, fully titled The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage, as delivered by Abraham the Jew unto his son, Lameck, AD, 1458 , had been discovered in Paris and translated by MacGregor Mathers, Chief of the Golden Dawn.
VOICE TWO: (as Crowley) “I had asked Jones to come and stay with me during the six months, in view of the dangers and interference already experienced at the mere threat to perform it.”
VOICE THREE: (as Crowley) “It was obviously the part of prudence to have, if possible, an initiate on the spot. It is also very awkward for a man absorbed in intense magical effort to have to communicate with the external world about the business of everyday life.” (Con/182)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) But Jones can’t come, and after a month a friend by the name of Rosher finds the strain intolerable and runs away. “
VOICE ONE: (Narration) One day, on coming back from shooting rabbits on the hill, Crowley finds a Roman catholic priest in his study. He has come to tell him that his lodgekeeper, a total abstainer for twenty years, has been raving drunk for three days and has tried to kill his wife and children. (Con/182)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) A female Cambridge acquaintance takes Rosher’s place; but she too begins to show symptoms of panic and fear. (Con/182)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Meanwhile, other storms are brewing – the members of the London temple, jealous of Crowley’s rapid progress in the Order of the Golden Dawn, are refusing to initiate him to the Second Order; and that in spite of an invitation from their Chief in Paris. (Con/182)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Invited to Paris, the Grade is conferred on Crowley by Mathers himself; he returns to Scotland to find that his female helper has fled to London and hidden herself. (Con/182)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) So what exactly had frightened these people? Crowley tells us quite matter-of-factly.
VOICE FOUR: (as Crowley) “There were numberless physical phenomena for which it is hard to account. While I was preparing the talismans, squares of vellum inscribed with Indian ink, a task which I undertook in the sunniest room in the house, I had to use artificial light even on the brightest days. It was a darkness which might almost be felt. The lodge and terrace, moreover, soon became peopled with shadowy shapes, sufficiently substantial, as a rule, to be almost opaque. I say shapes; and yet the truth is that they were not shapes properly speaking. The phenomenon is hard to describe. It was as if the faculty of vision suffered some interference; as if the objects of vision were not properly objects at all. It was as if they belonged to an order of matter which affected the sight without informing it.” (Con/183)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) Crowley makes some astonishing claims for this period.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) He claims to have been in contact with Angels of Fire who inform him that they are at war with other angels to prevent the squaring of the circle – whatever that might mean. And to have travelled far back into the past and witnessed the crucifixion. (Con/186/Symonds/134)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) And to have gone back even to the beginning of time and witnessed the First of the Golden Dawns. (Con/186)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Crowley’s biographer tells us that Crowley’s visions aren’t real visions at all – merely phantasies. He tells us that they lack the numinous or authoritative quality of genuine visions, and that they left Crowley exactly where he started. There again, Symonds detested Crowley. (Symonds/135)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) Anyway, the Order of the Golden Dawn was at that moment going through its death throws – the London body was in open revolt against the Chief in Paris. Crowley arrives in London as envoy extraordinary on Mathers’ behalf, but only succeeds in making matters worse. The squabbling goes on for months, and ends with the Order’s virtual destruction. Crowley describes Mathers as being cast off by the Secret Chiefs, and of living in sodden intoxication. Their relationship ends in bitterness. (Con/191)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) The Secret Chiefs were conceived of as Masters who watched over the affairs of men from caves in Tibet or, in so far as they were spirits, from the empyrean. The concept was of ancient Indian origin and tradition, and had been popularised by Petrovna Blavatsky and her Theosophical Society. MacGregor Mathers was allegedly in touch with these Secret Chiefs.
VOICE THREE: (Narration) Crowley does not return to his lodge on Loch Ness; the wanderlust is upon him. During June, 1900, he sails for New York, his intention being to climb the great volcanoes of Mexico. The Abra-Melin rite is again postponed. Crowley’s biographer tells us that he left behind him the shadowy shapes of Oriens, Paimon, Ariton, Amaimon and their hundred and eleven servitors to wreak havoc with everyone who came near. (Symonds/43)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Perdurabo stays in New York two or three days, travels directly to Mexico and finds to his delight that he is spiritually at home with the Mexicans. (Con/196)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) From Mexcio to San Fransisco; from San Fransisco to Honolulu, Japan and Ceylon.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) On having met up with Allan Bennett in Ceylon, Crowley practices Yoga and determines immediately that the fundamental principle of yoga is learning how to stop thinking.
VOICE THREE: (as Crowley) “To get into a trance is of the same order of phenomena as to get drunk. It does not depend on creed. Virtue is only necessary in so far as it favours success. I am proud of having made it possible for my pupils to achieve in months what previously required as many years. Also, of having saved the successful from the devastating delusion that the intellectual image of their experience is a universal truth.”
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) This error, we are told, has wrought more mischief in the past than any other. Almost all religious tyranny springs from intellectual narrowness. The spiritual energy derived from the high trances makes the seer a formidable force; but if he is unaware that his interpretation is due only to exaggeration of his own tendencies of thought, he will seek to impose it on others, and so delude his disciples, pervert their minds and prevent their development. (Con/241)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) He adds that the two processes (mysticism and Magick) are essentially identical; the apparent difference arising merely from the distinction between the European and the Asiatic conceptions of the cosmos. (Con/245)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) A few months later Crowley is telling us his Magick has proven much more far-reaching in importance than his mysticism. He calls Magick the practical side of spiritual progress. (Con/264)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Crowley’s philosophy was now rapidly taking shape. He was soon able to say: “It is a fallacy that the absolute must be the all-good. There is not an intelligence directing law. One has to be a philosopher to endure the consciousness of waste, and something more than a philosopher to admire the spendthriff splendour of the universe.” (Con/266)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) Ceylon, India, Burma, Baltistan, Egypt, France. His friend Allen Bennett becomes a Buddhist; Crowley flirts with both Buddhism and Hinduism, but is not impressed with the monastries. He tells us that only an infinitesimal few, like Allan, really understand the machinery of the business.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) And so he returns to Scotland, to Lochness, to Boleskine and the magical rite of Abra-Melin.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) During his absence the reputation of the house has become more formidable that ever. Crowley puts this down to the Abra-Melin devils using the place as their headquarters and terrifying the natives.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) And then the unexpected happens.
VOICE FOUR: He gets married.
VOICE ONE: Not because he’s madly in love.
VOICE TWO: But to help out a friend.
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) A party are staying at Strathpeffer, and invite Crowley over. There he meets Rose Kelly. Rose confides in him that she is being forced to marry someone she does not love. (Con/380)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) The story awakens Crowley’s Shelleyan indignation; he tells Rose that all she has to do is marry him. He will return to Boleskine and she need never hear of him again. (Con/380)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) A simple solution which of course backfires. Crowley marries Rose at Gretna Green and discovers soon after that his absolute indifference to her has hurled her into love with him. Never one to buck the moment, Crowley conveniently falls in love with Rose and they take off on a honeymoon to blast all honeymoons. (Con/384/391)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Off they go to Rangoon to visit Allen Bennett, and Crowley, ever the romantic, throws aside poetry, Magick and meditation because he is so supremely happy and intoxicated with his unexpected bride. (Con/389)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) He describes Rose as a ‘good women’; then explains what he means.
VOICE FOUR: (as Crowley) “Her love sounded every abyss of lust, soared to every splendour of the empyrean.” On another occasion he describes his marriage to Rose as ” . . . an uninterrupted sexual debauch.”
VOICE THREE: (Narration) After much big game shooting, it is found that Rose (surprise, surprise) is pregnant.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Rose and Crowley head for Cairo, and home, on March 11, 1904. On arriving in Cairo Rose is made privy to one of her husbands magical rituals; it is his intention to invoke for her what he terms ‘the sylphs’. This he does, but she can’t, or won’t, see them, and goes instead into a strange state of mind in which she keeps repeating They are waiting for you . . . They are waiting for you. Crowley tells us rather unconvincingly that he is annoyed by her conduct, and on March 17, repeats the ritual. Rose goes into the same strange state of mind and repeats her earlier remark, adding: It is all about the child. And All Osiris. Crowley wants Rose to see the sylphs, but she again offers independent remarks. This time he is impressed. She tells Crowley that he has offended Horus, and astonishes him by instructing him on how to invoke Horus, promising him success on Saturday, or Sunday. (Con/414)
VOICE ONE: All very head scratching.
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Rose then identifies the particular god with whom she is in communion from a pillar in the Boulak Museum, which neither of them had ever visited before. Crowley is struck by the fact that the exhibit bares the catalogue number 666. (Con/414)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) The invocation is a startling success. Crowley is told (he does not say how) that the Equinox of the Gods has come; that is, that a new epoch has begun, and that he, chosen one of the Secret Chiefs, is to formulate a link between the solar-spiritual forces and mankind. (Con/415)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) This isn’t at all surprising, for he has fallen out with MacGregor Mathers and just about everyone else belonging to the Order of the Golden Dawn, and cannot start his own legitimate Order until he makes, or appears to make (for the purpose of the magical record) personal contact with the Secret Chiefs – the Secret Chiefs are looking for someone else to lead things after having had to dump MacGregor Mathers.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Making inquiries about the strange pillar in the museum, Crowley has the inscription translated into French, makes poetic paraphrases of them, and is then mysteriously instructed by Rose to enter the room he has previously used at noon on April 8, 9 and 10, write down what he hears, and rise at exactly one o’clock. During those three hours he hears a voice behind him and writes three chapters of something called The Book of The Law; on looking over his shoulder he catches sight of a being who identifies himself as Aiwass, suspended in a kind of cloud. (Con/415)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Crowley’s biographer points out that Aiwas, or Aiwaz, was the messenger of Hoor-Paar-Kraat, that is to say, Set, the destroyer god, the brother and murderer of Osiris. He then reminds us that Set was also called Shaitan, and that Shaitan was the prototype of the Christian Satan. Although Crowley hardly knew it at the time, he had apparently caught a glimpse . . . of the Devil in person; or, perhaps more accurately, the Devil as archetype. (Symonds/84)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) Stunned by his experience, and by the material he has been given, he is then astonished by an injunction to publish the Secret Wisdom of the Ages so that after the wreck of civilisation (a great war is apparently imminent) the scolars of subsequent generations will be able to restore the magical traditions. (Con/426)
VOICE ONE: The year is 1904.
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Having been taught to dread the result of publishing the least part of the Secret Knowledge because it might fall into unworthy hands, Crowley finds it very hard to accept the injunction from the Secret Chiefs to publish The Book of the Law. (Con/426)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) He quite obviously believed there was an almighty difference between his literary creations and the psychic reception of this strange and disturbing book; and that in spite of the fact that the book contains many of his favourite biblical characters, and a few direct quotes from the prose author whom he regarded as a high initiate, Francois Rabelais. (Symonds/84/128)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) Oddly enough, Crowley actively dislikes The Book of the Law’s contents so much that he refuses to obey the injunction to publish it; at least this is what he keeps on telling us. Could it be that even he realised he had gone a bit too far?
VOICE FOUR: (Intoned)
VOICE TWO: Narration) Thelema was the name of the district in which Rabelais set his wonderous abbey, and meant will. (Symonds/84)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Crowley’s philosophy is that there is no God, and that one can therefore do what one wills. God is dead. The aim of man is pleasure. The libido of the unconscious (the emotional craving prompting any specific human sexual activity) is therefore the true will of the inmost self. Freud, he tells us, misunderstood the Freudian position. (Symonds/50/152)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) And so he and Rose return to Scotland for the birth of their first child, resume magical work in a desultory way, and pass the summer in an ecstatic dream. Sex. Salmon. Venison. His wine cellar and rock climbing. (Con/428)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) During this period Crowley self-publishes a number of his own plays and poems, and remarks: I made a clean sweep of my literary dustbin. I had its contents carted away and dumped on the public. He also prints a leaflet offering one hundred pounds for the best essay on his own work. This is designed to boost sales. (Con/429/440)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) The winner of the prize (the only person to enter) becomes an intimate friend and colleague, and eventually assists Crowley to execute the orders of the Secret Chiefs. (Con/429)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) There is only one thing to marr the perfection of that summer: psychic attacks directed against the whole household at Boleskine by the chief of the Order of the Golden Dawn – MacGregor Mathers. (Con/431)
VOICE FOUR: (as Crowley) He succeeded in killing most of the dogs.
VOICE ONE: (as Crowley) The servants too were constantly being made ill. . . . We therefore employed the appropriate talismans from The Book of the Sacred Magick of Abra-Melin against him, evoking Beelzebub and his forty-nine servitors. (Con/431)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) The attacks continue, and while playing billiards one afternoon with Ivor (or should it be Igor?), screams and oaths are heard coming from the kitchen – a workman putting in a new central heating system has gone crazy and attacked Rose. The offender is thrust into the coal cellar by Crowley, and the police sent for. (Con/432)
VOICE ONE: Mathers?
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Their child is born and called quite simply: Nuit Ma Ah-a-thoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith. (Con/432)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) On May 6, 1904, Crowley returns to the East with the intention of climbing Kangchenjunga with some friends. He leaves Cairo for Bombay by boat on the thirty-first. (Con/446)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) The attempt to climb Kangchenjunga ends in catastrophe. Ignoring Crowley’s instructions on how best to tackle the mountain, four men perish – at least this is Crowley’s story. He damns the English Alpine Club for their incompetence in a series of pre-emptive articles. Years later, a second expedition to climb Kangchenjunga ends in disaster for identical reasons, so maybe he was right. (Con/445/473)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Rose and Nuit Ma Ah-a-thoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith arrive in Calcutta on October 29, and Crowley gives her the option of walking across Persia or China. She picks China, and they take off on an epic journey which last for four months. (Con/535)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Somewhere in Ton-king, in Indo-China (better known today as North Vietnam), Crowley leaves Rose and the baby and rushes off to Shanghai to meet a woman called Elaine Simpson. Elaine is a medium with whom he has been working Magick on the astral plane. To his annoyance, Elaine pronounces Aiwass’s communication of the Book of the Law, genuine. (Symonds/118)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) Which rather suggests that he was checking up on Aiwass. Anyway, through Elaine Simpson, Aiwass tells Crowley to break off his relations with the medium he’s speaking through because she won’t take part in a necessary sexual ritual, and Crowley, ever obedient, says goodbye and returns to England by way of Vancouver and New York.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) On arriving in Liverpool on 2 June, 1906, he is sent reeling at the news that his little girl has died of typhoid in Rangoon; he of course blames the mother, not himself for abandoning her in the middle of Indo-China. Someone later remarks that Nuit Ma Ah-a-thoor had died, not from Typhoid, but from acute nomenclature. (Symonds/119)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Rose joins him, and they return to Scotland.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) He writes that from this date till the first week in February, he was intellectually insane, the complete destruction of his ability to reason leaving him no other means of apprehension than ‘voiceless longing,’ known in the Cabbala as Neshamah. He is about to cross what he terms the Abyss, the Abyss being the brink upon which one stands before abandoning the limitation of ideas constructed by reason.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) It was essential that he learn the technique of crossing the Abyss with absolute thoroughness, for the Secret Chiefs, he tells us, had it in mind to entrust him with the task of teaching others exactly how to do it.
VOICE ONE: (as Crowley) “I knew that every event in my life had been arranged by the gods to be of use to me in the accomplishment of the Great Work. (Con/556)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) On ninth October, 1906, having prepared a full invocation and ritual, he performs the Sacred Magic of the Abra-Melin Rite, completes it, and to his amazement, is successful. He tells us that for over three weeks he bore the stigmata of his operation physically, and began to visibly radiate light – a split infinitive of some interest. In the month of December the Secret Chiefs formally invite him, through a brother in Magick, to take his place officially in the Third Order. He does not feel worthy. Three years will elapse before he feels capable of accepting the offer. (Con/57)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Crowley describes 1907 and 1908 as years of fulfilment. In 1907, he compiles his Cabbalistic dictionary, 777, Rose gives birth to their second daughter, Lola Zaza, and he kicks his mother-in-law down stairs to show her who’s boss. It is around this time he discovers Rose to be a secret drunk.
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Professing to love Rose deeply, he divorces her because he cannot bear to watch her commit suicide – in a five month period she has obtained one hundred and fifty bottles of whisky from one grocer alone. It is agreed that he should be defendant as a matter of chivalry – the necessary evidence is manufactured. (Con/575)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) They go on living together, more or less; but her condition becomes rapidly worse. On 27 September, 1911, she is certified insane.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Crowley then takes to writing prose instead of plays and poetry, finds that he enjoys it, and pours out a welter of material on the occult. But at no time does he mention The Book of the Law as revealed to him by Aiwass in Cairo. (Con/576)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) This curious manuscript, instead of being published, is eventually lost, or mislaid, by Crowley, but surfaces again at exactly the right moment.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) 1908. Crowley picks up a book called The Magician, and discovers that it is by his old friend Somerset Maugham. Over a bottle of champagne and a pheasant, he reads The Magician and immediately recognises the central character as himself. Oliver Haddo is Aleister Crowley; his house Skene, is Boleskine. The hero’s witty remarks are, many of them, Crowley’s own.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Maugham has taken Crowley’s life – his marriage, explorations, adventures, magical opinions, ambitions and exploits – added a number of absurd legends, and in Crowley’s terms ” . . . shamelessly published this patchwork of plagiarised truth and nonsense as a novel.” (Con/616)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Maugham and Crowley are fated to meet by chance a few weeks later. Crowley informs him that he’s been very lucky, his article exposing the fraud in Vanity Fair has been cut by two thirds due to lack of space. He adds on turning away: (Con/617)
VOICE TWO: “I almost wish that you were an important writer.” (Con/617)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Since his return from China he has made several experiments with hashish, and has found that his habit of analysing and controlling his mind enables him to get the best out of the drug. Instead of getting intoxicated, he becomes abnormally able to push introspection to its limit. This ability to control the use of drugs will not last long. (Con/635)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) He is also experimenting during this period with what he terms materialisations.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) But is eventually convinced that it is not only a dangerous passtime to be involved in, but also an unprofitable one magically. To hanker after phenomena of this nature tempts one to distrust the subtler modes of realisations, he tells us. (Con/639)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Seeking research material for a writing project, Crowley studies manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, then returns to Scotland to search for some lost paintings of his own called The Four Elemental Watch Towers. He takes two friends along (one is particularly fond of skiing, and Crowley assures him that he has extra pairs at Boleskine), but neither the pictures nor the skis are anywhere to be found. (Con/646)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) An important point in a chain of events.
VOICE THREE: (Narration) They return to London, and Crowley describes himself as impelled mysteriously to look in the loft of the house for his missing paintings. This results in his finding not only the paintings and the skis, but also the missing Book of the Law. (Con/646)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Crowley says that the ground was completely cut away from under his feet in that moment; he spends two days meditating on what it might mean, and concludes that every misfortune of the previous three years were due to his attempt to evade his duty with regard to this curious manuscript. (Con/647)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Why? What was so important about that moment? There was nothing miraculous in the finding of the manuscript; it was an ordinary, everyday event, surely.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Not to Crowley.
VOICE THREE: (as Crowley) “I knew in myself that the Secret Chiefs had arranged that the manuscript of The Book of the Law should have been hidden under the Watch Towers and the Watch Towers under the skis; that they had driven me to make the key to my position the absence of the manuscript; that they had directed Kenneth Ward’s actions for years that he might be the means of the discovery in such a way that I should understood it as I did. (Con/649)
VOICE FOUR: He adds.
VOICE ONE: (as Crowley) “Yes; this involves a theory of the powers of the Secret Chief’s so romantic and unreasonable that it seems hardly worth a smile of contempt. What we have to understand is that the universe is full of obscure and subtle manifestations of energy; we are constantly advancing in our knowledge and control of them. But what no one has as yet managed to do is prove the existence of extra-human intelligences. (Con/649/652)
VOICE THREE: (as Crowley)
“I admit that my visions can never mean to other men as much as they do to me. I do not regret this. All I ask is that my results should convince seekers after truth that there is beyond doubt something worth while seeking, attainable by methods more or less like mine. I do not want to father a flock, to be the fetish of fools and fanatics, or the founder of a faith whose followers are content to echo my opinions. I want each man to cut his own way through the jungle. (Con/671)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Crowley is assisted in an evocation of Bartzabel, the spirit of Mars, by no less a figure than Commander Mars ton, R.N., (no pun intended I’m sure) one of the highest officials of the Admiralty; and Leila Waddle, an Australian violist. Enamoured by the Australian, Crowley immediately begins to use her in his magical workings. (Con/686)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) The newspaper editors who are reviling Crowley at this time are of course unaware that he is the chosen one, the Logos of the Aeon; they are not even aware that a New Aeon has begun. They weigh the mere man, Aleister Crowley, in the balance of the Old Aeon of Christianity and find him badly wanting. (Symonds/10)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) 1911 sees Crowley alternating his time between Paris and the forest of Fontainebleau.
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) In Paris he meets up with a magnificent specimen of mingled Irish and Italian womanhood – Mary d’Este Sturges, friend of Isadora Duncan – whom he refers to in his Confessions as Virakam; she is a quick-tempered and impulsive woman, always eager to act with reckless enthusiasm. Crowley is mesmerized.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) After a few weeks of skirmishing, he carries her off to Switzerland to spend the winter skating. Like Rose, Virakam has neither knowledge of, nor an interest in, Magick, but she too is suddenly taken over and used as an instrument to relay information to Crowley – the Secret Chiefs are at it again! (Con/738)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) On ditching Mary d’Este Sturges, he takes up with Leila the Australian violinist in the Spring of 1912, and dictates a book of Magick to her; this book will not see the light of day until 1921. (Con/743)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) At the outbreak of world war one, Crowley returns to England and makes every attempt to persuade the government to employ him; but they don’t want Aleister Crowley – he has too sinister a reputation. (Symonds/224)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) May I give you the Serpent’s Kiss? said Crowley to Nancy Cunard, interrupting her conversation about Hitler. She thought it too rude to say no, or to ask first what it meant, so she said yes, and got badly bitten on the wrist for her foolishness. (Symonds/224)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Rejected by the British government, Crowley crosses the Atlantic and offers his services to the Americans. (Symonds/228)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) But the Americans don’t want him either; they can’t think of a single thing for Crowley to do.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) But fate – in the shape of an Irishman by the name of O’Brian – will take a hand in the matter. (Con/817)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) In fact it will take Crowley by the hand and lead him into an altogether extraordinary situation.
ACTOR FOUR: (Narration) While reading a press cutting on himself on top of a bus trundling up Fifth Avenue (the press cutting describes Crowley as a great poet, philosopher, blackguard, mountaineer, magician, degenerate and saint all in one), he is arounsed from a mood of mingled gratification and disappointment by a tap on the shoulder.
VOICE ONE: (Irish accent) I couldn’t help but notice that you’re reading something from England, are you English?
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Crowley affirms that he is.
VOICE ONE: (Irish accent) Then are you in favour of a square deal for Germany and Austria?
VOICE TWO: (Narration) Being a cautious man, Crowley assures him that he is in favour.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) Which results in an invitation to discuss the matter further, and the handing over of a card. (Con/818)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) Intrigued by O’ Brian, Crowley later follows through and finds himself in the offices of a weekly magazine called . . . The Fatherland. To his surprise, the inmates know all about him. (Con/818)
VOICE ONE: O’Brian is never seen again.
VOICE TWO: (Narration) During the conversation which follows, it dawns on Crowley that he has stumbled upon the headquarters of the German propaganda machine in New York.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) So he drops a note to a certain Captain Gaunt of British Intelligence, but the British aren’t interested – it’s too small and insignificant an operation.
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Establishing himself as an Irish rebel and pro-German, Crowley goes on to become self-appointed spy and purveyor of information to British Intelligence, and takes to writing articles for The Fatherland.
VOICE THREE: (Narration) The idea, he assures us, was to work up the Germans from relatively reasonable attacks on England to extravagances which would achieve the final objective of revolting every comparatively sane human being on earth. (Con/824)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) What he forgets is that there are bombs dropping on England – British soldiers are dying in their thousands. No one is amused by his outbursts of veiled irony now approaching the level of verbal hysteria. In fact it is being assumed by all in sundry that the irritating balderdash being written by Crowley is the stark treason the German’s believe it to be. (Con/825)
ACTOR TWO: (Narration) The New York Times devotes no less than three columns to Crowley’s exploits, and in England there is, to say the least, consternation.
ACTOR THREE: (Narration) Crowley cannot think what has happened to the English sense of humour. (Con/825)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) In summing up his own patriotism, he says that he thinks the English pot just as black as the German kettle, but that he of course prefers the English pot. (Con/835)
VOICE TWO: (Narration) His biographer says simply that he had backed the side he now knew was going to lose, and feared retribution. (Symonds/14)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) On 12 October, 1915, Crowley leaps (in his own imagination) to the grade of Magus after months of sexual magical practise with a number of women bearing the names of animals; this puts him on the level of a Buddha, he tells us. Ratification of the Grade takes place during the summer of the following year, 1916, when he is struck by lightening for a second time in his life and survives. A globe of fire struck at his feet, he tell us, and a spark leaped to the middle finger of his left hand. (Symonds/236)
VOICE ONE: (Narration) After a blasphemous magical rite to formally assume his exalted Grade of Magus in the Great White Brotherhood of Light, he takes up painting and places an advertisment for models. (Symonds/239)
VOICE THREE: WANTED: Dwarfs, Hunchbacks, Tatooed Women, Freaks of all sorts, etc, etc.
VOICE ONE: (Narration) In the early part of 1918, Crowley gives a lecture in New York and meets up with Alma Hirsig. Two months later Alma turns up at Crowley’s studio on the corner of Washington Square accompanied by her younger sister, Leah. “Without wasting time,” says Crowley, “I began to kiss her.” Alma watches this remarkable performance, much surprised by her sister’s enjoyment of being immediately embraced. (Symonds/254)
VOICE FOUR: (Narration) Crowley paints Leah’s picture and initiates her in sexual magic, paints (or carves) the Mark of the Beast between her underdeveloped breasts, and gives her the title The Ape of Thoth and The Scarlet Woman, Alostrael. (Symonds/256)
VOICE THREE: (Narration) Sometime during the summer of 1918, Crowley decides to get away from it all; he acquires a canoe and paddles along the Hudson River to Oesopus Island where he falls into deep trance and obtains visions of his previous lives. By August he has found a new woman with orange-red curls who loves sex almost as much as he does. (Symonds/253)
ACTORS FOUR & ONE:
ACTORS TWO & THREE:
VOICE ONE TWO THREE & FOUR:
end of part one
THE AEON OF HORUS