Aleister Crowley and the Abbey of Thelema

Some may know, some may not... but, as horrid as Aleister Crowley was, he played a major part in the world of the paranormal... in it's darker sense. Known as the wickedest man in the world, that monikor rang true throughout his life. Here's an overview of The Abbey and the man himself. Some info courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Abbey of Thelema:
The Abbey of Thelema refers to a small house which was used as a temple and spiritual centre founded by Aleister Crowley and Leah Hirsig in Cefala, Sicily in 1920. The name was borrowed from François Rabelais's satire Gargantua and Pantagruel, where an Abbey of Theleme is described as a sort of "anti-monastery" where the lives of the inhabitants were "spent not in laws, statutes, or rules, but according to their own free will and pleasure."

This idealistic utopia was to be the model of Crowley's commune, while also being a type of magical school, giving it the designation "Collegium ad Spiritum Sanctum", A College towards the Holy Spirit. The general programme was in line with the course of training, and included daily adorations to the sun, a study of Crowley's writings, regular yogic and ritual practices (which were to be recorded), as well as general domestic labor. The object was for students to devote themselves to the Great Work of discovering and manifesting their True Will.

Crowley had planned to transform the small house into a global center of magical devotion and perhaps to gain tuition fees paid by acolytes seeking training in the Magical Arts; these fees would further assist him in his efforts to promulgate Thelema and publish his manuscripts. Two women, Hirsig and Shumway (her magical name was Sister Cypris after Aphrodite), were both carrying Crowley's seed. Hirsig had a two-year old son named Hansi and Shumway had a three-year old boy named Howard; they were not Crowley's but he nicknamed them Dionysus and Hermes respectively.

After Hirsig's Poupae died, Hirsig had a miscarriage but Shumway gave birth to a daughter (11/12/20), Astarte Lulu Panthea. Astarte was raised in the USA from 1931 by Ninette's older sister Helene Fraux. Astarte has four children including jazz painist Eric Muhler. Hirsig suspected Shumway's Black Magic foul play and what Crowley found when reading Shumway's magical diary (everybody had to keep one while at the abbey for reasons explained in Liber E) appalled him. Shumway was banished from the abbey and the Beast lamented the death of his children. However, Shumway was soon back in the abbey again to take care of her offspring.

Aleister Crowley:
Aleister Crowley (October 12th, 1875 - December 1st, 1947), born Edward Alexander Crowley, and also known as both Frater Perdurabo and The Great Beast, was an influential English occultist, mystic and ceremonial magician, responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. He was also successful in various other fields, including mountaineering, chess and poetry, and it has also been alleged that he was a spy for the British government. In his role as the founder of the Thelemite faith, he came to see himself as the prophet who was entrusted with informing humanity that it was entering the new Aeon of Horus in the early twentieth century.

Born into a wealthy upper middle class family, as a young man he became an influential member of the esoteric Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn after befriending the order's leader, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers. Subsequently believing that he was being contacted by his Holy Guardian Angel, an entity known as Aiwass, whilst staying in Egypt in 1904, he received a text known as The Book of the Law from what he believed was a divine source, and around which he would come to develop his new religion of Thelema. He would go on to found his own occult society and eventually rose to become a leader of Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), before founding a religious commune in Cefalu known as the Abbey of Thelema, which he led from 1920 through till 1923. After being evicted from Cefalu he returned to Britain, where he continued to promote Thelema until his death.

Crowley was also a clergyman, a recreational drug experimenter and social critic. In many of these roles he "was in revolt against the moral and religious values of his time", espousing a form of libertinism based upon the rule of "Do What Thou Wilt". Because of this, he gained widespread notoriety during his lifetime, and was denounced in the popular press of the day as "the wickedest man in the world."

Crowley has remained an influential figure and is widely thought of as the most influential occultist of all time. In 2002, a BBC poll described him as being the seventy-third greatest Briton of all time. References to him can be found in the works of numerous writers, musicians and filmmakers, and he has also been cited as a key influence on many later esoteric groups and individuals, including Jimmy Page, Kenneth Grant, Jack Parsons, Gerald Gardner and, to some degree, Austin Osman Spare.

 

Images Courtesy of GM Kelly

Abbey of Thelema 1

Abbey of Thelema 2

Abbey of Thelema 3

 

Videos

The Abbey of Thelema - Video

Main image courtesy of HowStuffWorks

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