ALEISTER CROWLEY PERSONALLY
by Hymenaeus Alpha 777
Bill Heidrick has asked me to tell you what it was like to be under the Magickal Instruction of Aleister Crowley personally. Unfortunately this is impossible, much as I would personally like to accommodate him... and you. After all, if one cannot discuss the Secret of the IXth Degree (with its well-known “secret ingredient”) except under Seal, how much less can one get into the doctrine of the Golden Pyramid of Atlantis? (What has been published by A. C. himself can be discussed — if you want some idea, take a look at the Crown of The Fool in the Thoth Tarot deck and remember the ancient adage: “The Universe is held in the Mind of God.” Add the ideas of computer programming, the tanmantras and what people really mean when they say they are “maintaining.”) What are the real words signified by A.'. A.'.? How does one charge a set of Abramelin squares written in Enochian? And Why? And why you shouldn’t! The mystery of the Virgin Man — reflect on your biblical “Woman clothed with the Sun” and reread your Kabbalah Denudata, the “Twelve Stars for her Crown” being the twelve cranial nerves of the cerebellum in the activated Psychic Body. Why should the ancient curse be, “May Choronzon burn the back of your neck!” — I’ll give you a clue: the Visudha Chakra, or Da’ath in the activated Psychic Body. Or the nature of the Boat of the Sun. It is impossible to discuss these things, except under Seal, of course, because of: 1. The Fourth Rule of the Sphinx — Silence! 2. The Magickal Penalty for the Violation of an Oath. 3. The danger... not to me, to you! I would not care to have the karma of a Lou Culling who published certain (inaccurate) books on sex Magick. That is like handing a lighted stick of dynamite to a child for a fire cracker, or throwing acid tabs to teenagers like sugar cubes to piss-ants. The only thing I can think of worse from a Thelemic point of view is telepathic hypnosis. You will notice that Crowley was never so irresponsible.
It has occurred to me that I am one of the few people left alive who knew Aleister Crowley at the last three places he lived: 93 Jermyn Street; The Bell Inn, Aston Clinton, Bucks, north of London; and Netherwood, the Ridge, Hastings.
So let’s meet Aleister Crowley.
As I said in a previous rap (Vol. I, #4 of the O.T.O. Newsletter), 93 Jermyn Street is just off Picadilly Circus in London. As best memory serves, it is the bottom flat of a several story apartment house facing North. This is what the interior looked like: A is the door leading in off the street. B was a large window that lighted the place very well during the day, but at night had a black “black-out” shade on it so that no light could be seen by the German bombers we could hear patrolling overhead. C was the chess table. D and F were two comfortable chairs facing the table. I always sat in D and Crowley always sat in F. G was the round turn-table full of books down at my right — where I picked up the I Ching book with the Crowley paintings for covers. H was the two-tiered open bookcase on the North wall over under the window. The letter H itself is about where I found the volume of Abramelin squares. It was on the top shelf. I signifies four framed line drawings in typical Crowley style that I can only describe as being “mildly erotic.” They were certainly not obscene. Unfortunately the only one I can remember with any clarity was the one on the left. It featured a young lady looking down with great delight at what looked like an overgrown bush, with Crowley in oriental garb looking over her right shoulder, and the caption read something to the effect about how wonderful it was to know this young woman because “she has the world’s largest cunt!” Unfortunately these drawings did not survive to be shipped to Germer after Crowley’s death. I can only presume that they were ripped off. I met Lady Frieda here, and also Dr. Louis Wilkinson. It is my impression that he was a medical doctor, but as a British author he wrote under the name of Louis Marlowe. I can’t tell you what the kitchen and bedroom looked like, as I was never in either of them, but the bedroom looked pleasant and sunny enough from the living room. It is the place where a German bomb blew in the back windows one night, and, as Crowley said, if he had been home at the time he would have been killed. Crowley had an idea that he could divine a person’s character rather quickly by the way he played chess. A right side opening (usually King’s Pawn) meant a fast, slashing, rather reckless attack. A left side opening (usually Queen’s Pawn, unless one is going in for Hyper-Modern theory where anything is possible) meant a slow, leisurely, intellectual game — and person. I tend to the right side, myself. Apparently Crowley liked that. Anyway, after about the third meeting, he said, “You are obviously IXth Degree material,” and handed me the papers. It was here he told me about “my chess game,” as he put it — a story he loved to tell. It was a “blind-fold” game (one in which the player does not see the board). Anyway, he went to bed with the lady of his choice at the time, while his chess opponent sat at the board within easy talking distance, but where Crowley couldn’t see it. The idea was to see if Crowley could achieve climax and call “Mate!” at the same time. As he said with great delight, “I did it!” It was also here that I asked him for help with my Motto (see previous O.T.O. Newsletter), and that the incident of the British school-boys happened. I am so used to reading freak-out accounts about how Crowley was supposedly such a bad-ass, that I was a little taken aback recently to read an article in which someone was trying to make him out a kindly old gentleman. Well, he certainly could be kind enough, if it struck him that way, but so far as I could tell he remained irascible to the end. Anyway, it is a habit in England for school-boys to go around in small groups at Xmas time and sing carols at your front door, and, as has been said, “they will not go away until they are paid!” Well, they did that time. Go away, that is, without being paid. We were sitting there at 93 Jermyn Street playing chess and rapping one wintry afternoon just before Xmas of ’43 e.v. when we heard this raucous noise at the door. Crowley said, “I wonder what that is,” in some annoyance, and went and opened the door. Here were four English school-boys bawling away. Crowley flew into a temper, slammed the door, and came storming back into the room raging, “TO THE LIONS WITH THEM! TO THE LIONS WITH THEM!” Of course if they had been singing “Oh little house of Boleskine,” as someone was at a recent Crowleymas party, he might have felt differently. Of course, it was here at Jermyn Street that Crowley gave me his (typically Crowley) view of the people of the Mediterranean. “All those people can think of is fucking!” is the way he put it — his own succinct way. It was also here that we took off one day for lunch at some posh London restaurant. I had gotten into town in the morning, amazingly enough, or maybe I had spent the night (being a red blooded American boy) with one of the whores from Picadilly Circus (wars are fought on the unexpended virility of young men... personally, I never found any shortage of young women to help them get rid of their problem), and he decided to celebrate by treating me to a fine lunch. It was in a hotel, the Savoy, as I recall, but don’t hold me to it; I remember that the doorman wore his British Army combat ribbons on his doorman’s uniform. With the barrage balloons flying and all that, wartime London could be a rather exciting place. Sometime I must tell you about the Red Berets of Ord Wingate’s Burma Drop, and the British Officer Club circuit. But anyway... I got the idea that winning the Victoria Cross was a high recommendation for retiring as a doorman for a posh London hotel, but then it was wartime England. Crowley was wearing a knickered tweed suit he had specially ordered and tailored and was so proud of... he loved to show you how efficient it was... all those little pockets and things. It came complete with gravy stains, which can still be seen in photos as late as ’45 e.v. from Hastings. Very important in shortage plagued war-time England, but it was very unusual looking. Anyway, as we were walking into the lobby, I was walking on the right, a rather beefy looking Englishman coming out of the Restaurant took one look at him and burst into laughter. I flushed and half turned to my left with something in mind about doing something about it (“You can’t laugh at my prophet that way!”), but then I noticed that Crowley was laughing and talking and paying it no never-mind, and I suddenly flashed that it would make a rather silly headline the next day — “BERSERK AMERICAN OFFICER ASSAULTS PEACEFUL BRITISH CITIZEN AT POSH HOTEL!” — so I simmered down and we walked on into the dining room. The reason this incident sticks in my mind is because of something that happened on the way. We had taken one of those big red double-decker buses and were sitting on the bottom level on the left about half-way. We were sitting there talking, when suddenly Crowley glanced up to the left, said “Pardon me a moment,” closed his eyes, made some mystic passes with the fingers of his right hand, and mumbled something unintelligible. Unintelligible to me, anyway. It wasn’t until later that I figured out that he had been doing the noon Liber Resh. The thing that is so striking is that he was so quiet about it. To hear some people talk you would think that he would have rushed up to the top deck and shouted it “from the housetops” to all of Greater London. There may have been times where he did, but he didn’t do it that day.
From the O.T.O. Newsletter, Berkeley, California
Vol. II, #7&8 [Double Issue] Winter-Spring, May 1979, pgs. 3-6