Various myths about Aleister Crowley appear from time to time, which we will take a moment to briefly address. In this post we will discuss two myths surrounding Crowley’s use of drugs and his death.
Aleister Crowley was a heroin addict until his dying day. He was just not perfect, not enlightened, and he failed. Why would anyone follow this guy or want to be like him? Does AC2012 encourage people to strive to be like Aleister Crowley?
We certainly do not suggest that anyone try to live like Crowley lived. He said that “we must each cut our own way through the jungle.” What we hope is that people all over the world will hear his message of liberty and renounce slave religion. Crowley’s sole “commandment” (if you want to call it that) is that each of us know and do our own will.
Concerning drugs, Aleister Crowley was prescribed heroin for his asthma, a common medical practice at the time, and he became addicted like anyone would. He later used heroin recreationally and sacramentally, as he did with many drugs including cocaine, hashish, ether, peyote, and pretty much anything that he could get his hands on to try. He was after all a scientist, trained as a chemist even, a mystic, and a psychonaut. What do you expect?
If this fact is enough to keep you from taking any of Crowley’s ideas seriously, we commend your anti-intellectual dedication and suggest that you also consider the advice of Bill Hicks:
“Go home tonight and take all your albums and all your tapes and all your CDs and burn ‘em, ’cause you know what? The musicians who made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years? Rrrrreal fuckin’ high on drugs.”
Aleister Crowley was prophet of the New Aeon, and he preached freedom and sovereignty of the individual as the guiding principle of politics. He viewed this freedom as a necessary precondition for being able to accomplish one’s will, or fulfill one’s inmost nature. In the goal of accomplishing his will, Aleister Crowley was definitely not perfect and he did not always succeed. Of this, he was more than well aware, and he wrote:
Here then let me make open confession, and say thus: though I pledged myself almost in boyhood to the Great Work, though to my aid came the most puissant forces in the whole Universe to hold me to it, though habit itself now constraineth me in the right direction, yet I have not fulfilled my Will: I turn aside daily from the appointed task. I waver. I falter. I lag.
Let this then be of great comfort to you all, that if I be so imperfect–and for very shame I have not emphasized that imperfection–if I, the chosen one, still fail, then how easy for yourselves to surpass me! Or, should you only equal me, then even so how great attainment should be yours!
Aleister Crowley died lonely. His last words were “I’m Perplexed.” He died penniless. Obviously whatever his teachings were, they did not help him in the end. Therefore his writings are worthless.
Do you really think that no wise or intelligent person of any value should ever be perplexed, feel loneliness, or lack investment capital? Really? We take it then that you are a Scientologist.
For those who are curious about the real story of Aleister Crowley’s death bed, we offer the following from Lawrence Sutin’s Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley, the recollection of Patricia MacAlpine, mother of Crowley’s son Aleister Ataturk:
“…the beast [Aleister Crowley] remained in good spirits, enjoying the comings and goings of Aleister Ataturk and the other children, who adored him in turn. Crowley did, however, remain in bed. The day before he died, he talked calmly and at length with MacAlpine. The following day was a still one but at the moment of Crowley’s death, which came quietly, the curtains in his room were caught in a gust of wind and a peal of thunder was heard. ‘It was the gods greeting him’ said MacAlpine.”
Moreover, while Crowley had spent his small fortune on publishing, he did not die in a state of poverty. His friends and brethren willingly supported him, just as he had done in so many ways for them throughout his life. As a testimony of his lack of need, he was responsible for keeping a locked box of money belonging to Ordo Templi Orientis, which he did, and never opened it. On his death he left everything, consisting most importantly of his intellectual property, to this same Order.
To learn more about Aleister Crowley’s life, there are two extremely good biographies available right now:
Do you know of a Crowley myth worth addressing or making fun of? Please write us: firstname.lastname@example.org.