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Crowley the Poet:
A Different Look at Aleister Crowley on this, the Occasion of his 136th Birthday

Aleister Crowley, October 12, 1875–December 1, 1947

781 words

“I have been accused of being a ‘black magician.’ No more foolish statement was ever made about me . . .”
—Aleister Crowley

I do not care too much for what other people say, and I do not care too much for what other people think of what some people say. Which is, I suppose, a rather roundabout manner of explaining why I have great admiration for Aleister Crowley as a poet despite what is said and what is thought about him, about his works, about his legacy, and about his life.

I know full well that he is mainly known as an occultist, that he called himself The Beast, that he was a dark magician and so forth and so on. We all know. The system is very, very keen on painting Mr. Crowley with a big, broad, and heavily loaded brush.

Ah, that brush!

If it’s the only thing of value I learn during this lifetime, it is still worth having gone through everything to have learned this: the brush that paints the pictures for mass consumption is not a fine brush. It is a caricature maker’s tool, a fool’s crayon, a dauber and a mud slinger much more than it is a brush. But, it serves as the main (often times the one and only) illumination device for the majority of people, about a majority of topics. Crowley is but one of many who have been reduced to a few two-dimension aspects by this brush with the system.

Beast. Occultist. Sex-magickian. Anti-semite. Evil. 666.

Half a dozen terms and I think that pretty much sums Aleister Crowley up for most people. Throw in a pentagram and some references to the Golden Dawn or the OTO and he’s wrapped up for those who have half a brain more than most.

Which is a pity.

Thankfully there are those of us who realize that the system is an abstract painter, not a realist, when it comes to that broad brush it likes to throw around, and that the things that it calls portraits are mostly smears, nothing more and nothing less, that do not add up to a whole.

With that in mind, I would like to bring forth a facet of Crowley that has always fascinated me, and has always made me realize that the prevailing image of him is not the most complete or the most discriminating one to be had. Crowley had it in him to be a gifted and sensitive poet, with depths of insight and a talent for remarkable lines that resonate well beyond the edges of the poems themselves. It is a shame that some of the sonnets he wrote are not popularly anthologized, for they are as beautiful as any others written by masterful poets, but . . . the system has painted Crowley in one single-sided manner, and those who purchase popular anthologies wouldn’t like the selected works of an anti-christ mingling with their ee cummings or Maya Angelou (of course, those who like Maya Angelou wouldn’t understand masterful poetry anyway).

So, while Crowley the poet hardly ever emerges from the veils of time, today, on his birthday, let us lift the curtain and catch a glimpse of remarkable light from one who is known, for better and for worse, as master of the dark.

The Hermit


My soul is like the savage upland plains
Of utmost wretchedness in Tartary.
No strength of sun, no fertilizing rains!
Only a bitter wind, intense and dry,
Cuts over them. Hardly the memory stands
Of one who travels there; his pain forgets
The golden bliss of all those other lands
Where he was happy. So the blizzard frets
Its sterile death across my soul, and chills
All hope of life even from the rare sad seeds
It blows from sunnier vales and happier hills,
Though at the best they be but worthless weeds.
I stand— I scan the infinite horizon
Of hopeless hope— yet I must travel on.

From: The Hermit’s Hymn to Solitude


All things which are complete are solitary;
The circling moon, the inconscient drift of stars,
The central systems. Burn they, change they, vary?
Theirs is no motion beyond the eternal bars.
Seasons and scars
Stain not the planets, the unfathomed home,
The spaceless, unformed faces in the dome
Brighter and blacker than all things,
Borne under the eternal wings
No whither: solitary are the winter woods
And caves not habited,
And that supreme grey head
Watching the groves: single the foaming amber floods,
And O! most lone
The melancholy mountain shrine and throne,
While far above all things God sits, the ultimate alone!


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  1. Sandy
    Posted October 12, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    A few years ago I read John Carter’s Sex and Rockets in an attempt to learn a little about Jack Parsons, the founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. While there is no denying the man was a genius I also learned that he frequently socialized with the equally brilliant Crowley. According to Carter, Crowley had a wretched childhood and set out to destroy Christianity and to replace it with Crowleyanity and his Law of Thelema. Hence I am not surprised that he is known as The Beast. Parson too was against Christianity and by night, Parsons called himself the Anti-Christ when he performed Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic rituals to create a new sort of human being that would finally destroy Christianity. Only in California! If one wishes to read up on the religious eccentricities of these genuine geniuses Sex and Rockets can be ordered through Amazon and please remember our 7% solution. And, yes, Crowley was quite the poet.

  2. Jan L
    Posted October 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Satanism = reversed Christinsanity made to order to suit imbeciles, psychopaths, and morons.

    • Sandy
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

      Sorry Jan(my fellow Christian), But as Luke tells us (Ch 16, v8b) for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. Of course, when it comes to psychopaths, you could be right?

  3. Jaego Scorzne
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    He generated social aversion and then used the force in his Magick. He himself often regreted how many bridge he burned in so doing. A purity of a kind. More serious are the sucides and break downs that occured among his disciples. He actually though of himself as a White Magician. But was he really?

  4. who+dares+wings
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    “A few years ago I read John Carter’s Sex and Rockets in an attempt to learn a little about Jack Parsons, the founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. While there is no denying the man was a genius I also learned that he frequently socialized with the equally brilliant Crowley.”

    Sorry Sandy, but I just finished a book about Jack Parsons wife Marjorie Cameron and Parsons never met Crowley. Parsons lost his security clearance at JPL and finally his job for “borrowing” classified documents which he was sharing with a Jewish communist in hopes of landing a better job in Israel. Compared to Rudyard Kipling and W.B. Yeats, Crowley’s poetic gifts weren’t as stellar, but he did write some memorable poems and limmricks. The anthologists and poetasters of his era overlooked him for the same reason they ignored Don Blanding “The Poet Laureate of Hawaii.” Neither ever found a word to rhyme with “antimacasser. “

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