Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley | First Editions

1875 - 1947

Aleister Crowley (born Edward Alexander Crowley; 12 October 1875 – 1 December 1947) was an English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, painter, novelist, and mountaineer. He founded the religion and philosophy of Thelema, identifying himself as the prophet entrusted with guiding humanity into the 'Æon of Horus' in the early 20th century.

Crowley rejected the fundamentalist Christian faith of his wealthy family, instead pursuing an interest in Western esotericism. In 1898, he joined the esoteric Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, where he was trained in ceremonial magic by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and Allan Bennett. When travelling in India, Crowley began studying Hindu and Buddhist practices. He married Rose Edith Kelly, and the couple honeymooned in Cairo, Egypt. Here, Crowley claimed to have been contacted by a supernatural entity named Aiwass, who provided him with The Book of the Law, a sacred text that served as the basis for Thelema. 

In Britain, Crowley attracted attention as a prolific author of poetry, novels, and occult literature during his lifetime; he gained widespread notoriety as recreational drug experimenter, bisexual and an individualist social critic. In Byronic tones, Crowley was denounced in the popular press as "the wickedest man in the world" and a Satanist. Nonetheless, Crowley has remained a highly influential figure over Western esotericism and the counter-culture, and continues to be considered a prophet in Thelema. In 2002, a BBC poll ranked him as the seventy-third greatest Briton of all time.

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