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Who Was Aleister Crowley, the “Wickedest Man in the World”?

Updated on March 1, 2012

Aleister Crowley would probably say that he was a genius of his era, for he wasn’t a modest man. The truth is that he was no dummy!

He was born in 1875, Edward Alexander Crowley, in Britain. Before his death in 1947 he could boast (and probably did, often) of many accomplishments, including being a master in mountaineering, chess, poetry, ceremonial magic, the occult, astrology and the mystic arts. He was the founder of the Thelemite Philosophy or Thelema and therefore considered himself a prophet. Crowley believed that he had been chosen to inform humanity of its venture into the new “Aeon of Horus” in the early years of the twentieth century.

While spending time in Egypt, Crowley became a member of the cult, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He believed that he was being influenced by his Holy Guardian Angel, Aiwass when he wrote “The Book of the Law” in 1904. Eventually he founded his own occult society, Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.). He also became the leader of a religious commune he called The Abbey of Thelema from 1920 through 1923. Crowley was eventually evicted from Egypt and returned to Britain, where he continued to preach his Thelemaic doctrine until his death.

He acquired his reputation as “the wickedest man in the world” from the popular newspapers of his day because of his open use of recreational drugs, bisexual activities and his credo of, “Do What Thou Wilt.” He was a verbose social critic of the moral and religious Victorian values of his day. All of this notoriety did not deter from his widespread influence of the public. In fact in 2002 a BBC poll grouped him in with the Greatest Britains of all Time.

The Philosophy of Thelema

Devised by Britain’s Aleister Crowley in the early 1900’s, the Thelema Philosophy incorporated the credo, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law". In other words, follow your own path, known as one’s True Will. This refers to one’s purpose or calling in life. Crowley believed and preached that just about anything goes, as long as you perceive your actions to be consistent with your True Will. (A very convenient doctrine.)

This philosophy originated in ancient Egypt, and is something Crowley studied and revised to his own benefit while he lived there in the early 1900’s. Along with these teachings are gods that are associated with it. In order of importance is first, Nuit, who is considered the Great Mother and ultimate source of all things. Next is Hadit, complement and consort of Nuit and who symbolizes manifestation, motion, and time. Ra-Hoor-Khuit, a manifestation of Horus. is symbolized as a man with the head of a hawk who carries a wand. He is associated with the Sun and the active energies of Thelemic magic. Other deities include Hoor-Paar-Kraat(or Harpocrates), god of silence and inner strength. His sister, Ra-Hoor-Khuit, Babalon, the goddess of all pleasure, known as the Virgin Whore. and Therion, the animal Babalon rides, who represents the wild beast within man, a force of nature.


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