by Hymenaeus Alpha 777

As I mentioned in my last rap, 93 Jermyn Street is just off Picadilly Circus in London. A “circus” is a “r’und-a-boot” (round-about), i.e. a circle where traffic flows in and out. Picadilly Circus has traditionally had a statue of Eros (Cupid) on the island in the center (taken down during the war, of course). They couldn’t take down Nelson’s Monument in Trafalgar Square, so they sandbagged it. Anyway, and for whatever reason, it was the habit at that time (’43 – ’44 e.v.) for all of the young ladies of London who wanted to fuck for fun and profit to come down and blanket the walls while the various clientele (mostly American soldiers) considered the prospects. The comments one heard while passing could be rather startling. I remember being jolted out of my satori one evening by some broad yelling “Get your hand off my cunt!” during a particular point when they were negotiating as to who was to sleep with whom and where and how much for the night. We had a saying in the American army, “If you put a roof over Picadilly Circus, you would have the biggest whorehouse in the world.” Whether Crowley ever made use of the local availability I have no idea, but it did set a certain tone.

Speaking of sex, the question has arisen as to whether Crowley ever made any homosexual advances to me. The answer is no.  (For a confirmatory opinion, see The Eye in the Triangle by Dr. Israel Regardie,  p. 16.)  The Aleister Crowley I knew had the greatest respect for the right of an individual to manifest their Will without interference. The only time the subject ever came up was by accident and a joke. One day he was telling me about how he had been at a party the previous evening. From his description I got the idea that the people who attended were mostly of the artist / bohemian persuasion, but elderly, because, as he said, despite their age they were all jumping about “as spry as crickets.” Whereupon I made some inane comment to the effect that I would have liked to have been there. His reply was rather devastating. He said, and I quote, “Oh, you would just have gotten yourself buggered.” Considering my physical strength at the time that does seem unlikely, but anyway...

It was also here at 93 Jermyn Street that a German bomb landed in his back yard, blowing glass from the window all over his bed, and as he said to me at the time, “If I had been home, I would have been killed.” This shook his nerve a bit. He, along with Lady Frieda and many another Britisher, were determined that the German bombing would not drive them out of London — the old British “bulldog” spirit.  As to whether any of this on Crowley’s part had to do with any remorse over his pro-German activities in the U.S. during War One, I cannot say. So far as I am concerned, he was just being the typical Britisher he had always been. Crowley was in the tradition of the radical conservative. On the one hand there is nothing more radical than Thelema. On the other hand he was a monarchist. He could never forgive Edward VIII for having abdicated his throne to marry a commoner. After all, the office of the Royal Consort had been approved in European royalty for centuries.

Speaking as an old combat trooper, I can report with great authenticity that being next to a bomb going off will do something to you. What it does mostly is make your nerves a lot more frangible. So if sometimes my hand shakes a little and maybe I drink more than is good for me, believe me I have reasons. When the Chinese hit the Kumwha Ridges with a human wave that went on for a solid week in October of  ’52 e.v., and I was ammo supply on the Central Front, Korea... but that is another Grady story...

Back to Crowley. As a result of the German bombing he decide he needed “more quiet.” Can’t say I blame him. I thought it was dumb enough to stay in London to begin with, but I didn’t tell him that.

So he looked around and decide to move to the Bell Inn at Ashton Clinton, Bucks County (I think that means “Buckingham”). There is a whole history of England written in the county names. “The painted counties.” Yes, I saw it once when I was running east on a highway over in the West country — those perfect patches of agriculture, each in its own color... (Essex means “the East Saxons,” Wessex means “the West Saxons,” Sussex means “the South Saxons,” Northumberland means the pits. That is Robin Hood country.) ...about 30 miles north of London. Of course, London goes on forever.

The Bell Inn is an authentic country inn. It still has the courtyard where the stagecoaches stopped to load and unload. I was still up in East Anglia at Bury St. Edmunds at the time. Now England is built very much like Italy or Korea when it comes to roads. “All roads lead to...” London, Rome or Seoul, as the case may be. To cut across country is a problem. Add to that the fact that the British had taken down all road signs in case of a German invasion, which was not at all unlikely. But I had a very beautiful, red Morocco bound quarto sized map book, so I never really had any problems negotiating the terrain. (From a recent film,  “The Eagle Has Landed,”  it is quite obvious that the Germans had just as good road maps, so why did the British take down the road signs? Well, you are at war — you have to do something — even if only to keep up your morale.) I fogged my way across country... wondering at the convoys of British trucks that did not have front wheel drive... sure enough, they bogged down in the mud of Italy while those American GMC deuce and a halfs went plowing sturdily through... bugged the hell out of the British newspaper correspondents at the time... and those colorful “Royal Corps of Signals” on their messengers motorcycles with their funny helmets and fantastic yellow gloves with the long gauntlets to cover their wrists.

I did not really have all that much trouble in finding Ashton Clinton, not at all like that time in Korea when I wanted to drive from Chouchon over to the Western Front without bothering to drive all the way into Seoul. Found myself on a washed-out road on a mountain pass, up to the fan belt in a flooding stream without a bridge — and when a squad of Koreans burst out of the cane in full camouflaged combat regalia, I damned near shit my pants while grabbing for my carbine in the back of the jeep. Turned out they were just ROK troops on maneuvers, but for a horrible second I didn’t know that. Well, anyway, back to Crowley, like I said.

Naturally I was in uniform. Not only was there a war on, but I had taken the morning off from my duties as Company Commander to grab the Company jeep and go over and see Crowley. I walked in to the desk (on the right; the dining room is on the left as you walk in) and asked the clerk how I could find Mr. Crowley. He said, “Oh, right up those stairs (on the right), down the corridor to the left, and its room number so and so (which I have forgotten).” So I go pounding up the stairs “with me combat boots on,” found the door (on the right), and pounded on it. I heard some unintelligible sound, so I pounded again. This time I heard a voice saying very distinctly, “Who is it?” Since I was talking to a piece of wood, the door, and there seemed to be some problem of communication, I said very loudly, “LIEUTENANT McMURTRY.” The door opened and there was Crowley. He took one look at me and said, “Oh, there you are, dear chap. Come right on in.” Then he paused, looked puzzled for a second, and said, “That’s strange. When I was taking the I Ching this morning it said that I would be meeting a military man.”  I walked in, and he said, “Pardon me a minute.” He was in progress of taking an oracle from the I Ching. It was the one time I saw him using his I Ching sticks (which I was able to recover from the library after the court order decreeing that his library belonged to the O.T.O. under my conservatorship).

The blank side is the male (Yang, energy) side. The divided side (looks like red nail polish to me) is the female (Yin, receptive) side. By my ruler they are less than an 8th of an inch in thickness, but slightly more than a 16th thick. They either were mahogany or teak or stained dark to look so. Each stick has a Yang side and a Yin side. The way Crowley used them was to shuffle them (with his eyes closed then take them one at a time and, holing each one upright with his right forefinger (eyes still closed), get a signal and lay it down either right or left. First stick down is the bottom line. You can also get moving lines this way. If one of the sticks wants to move when you lay it down, just shove it right or left as indicated. Personally I like this method of taking the Oracle. It gives you a chance for your Angel to communicate directly through your fingertip. Of course, one must always be wary of lying and malicious spirits.

I forget exactly what we talked about, but I do remember that it was a happy reunion and a heart warming experience. Crowley could be a wonderful person when he wanted to be. As for the irascible side of his nature, I personally do not think he could have brought down The Book of The Law unless he had been authentically THE GREAT WILD BEAST OF THE AEON.

I met him once more, Xmas of 1944 e.v., but more of that next time... and Hastings.

To be continued ...

Editorial Note: Sadly, one summer while partying on a beach in San Francisco, Grady accidently lost Aleister Crowley's original I-Ching sticks.  Years earlier, while visiting my house in Connecticut, I had the opportunity not only to hold these sticks but to fashion my own set almost identical in size from the originals.  Here is a photo of mine:

From the O.T.O. Newsletter, Berkeley, California
Vol. III, No.9, Summer, August 1979, pgs. 3-7