Drugs and the Deathbed

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.

Myth:

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?

AC2012:

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!

Be of good cheer, therefore, since both my failure and my success are arguments of courage for yourselves.

Myth:

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.

Netherwood, Aleister Crowley's final home

Netherwood, Aleister Crowley's final home, was also home to a number of other intellectuals. In this beautiful place, on acreage atop a hill, with a view of the cliffs AC climbed as a child, Crowley was frequently surrounded by friends and family.


AC2012:

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: aleister.crowley.2012@gmail.com.

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About ac2012

We realize that Aleister Crowley is dead. And British. And, moreover, not running for office. Nevertheless, we believe that the most effective vote you can cast in 2012 is one for Aleister Crowley. “The absolute rule of the state shall be a function of the absolute liberty of each individual will.”
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19 Responses to Drugs and the Deathbed

  1. zurvan1 says:

    Let me preface this by saying I have reservations about Crowley, mitigating my respect and my debt. That said, Symonds – who wrote to belittle Crowley, and kicked off a wave of interest instead – changed his mind about AC’s last words at least once. The line he first published, ‘I am perplexed’ went to ‘sometimes I hate myself’ in later editions. Its not unlikely there was no-one there to hear Crowley’s last words. His life is more important anyway, his value today is as an important occult writer and experimenter, and there’s no taking away from that.

  2. Rowie says:

    Thank god there are still people who dare to use their own common sense. The fact people are still talking about “The Old Crow” has to count for something? I still see him as an important person who tried to hack his own way through the jungle of religious indoctrination and media brainwashing. Thumbs up for AC2012.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Highly entertaining philosophies here….however….Incorrect Lon, His last words quite the contrary, ‘Father, into thy hands i commit my spirit”

  4. IAO131 says:

    At least he didn’t poop himself to death like Buddha.

  5. Diana says:

    So very sorry to burst your bubble but he left a hideous corpse behind. In fact Aleister bastardized tantric yoga tenets to suit his own perverse needs for satanic rituals. I could care less how you distort the truth to make him seem heroic he was a drug abuser and black magic wizard who respected no one not even himself therefore he believed in nothing . Anyone who a true and enlightened belief system will easily look 20 to 30 years younger than their biological years. Your article is totally a work of fiction. Good luck convincing others they should follow the ramblings of a selfish man man who disobeyed the karmic laws of Mother Kali Devi Ma. Indian ritual is saco red and so is the Kabaalah so once you temper with anyone’s spiritual belief systems you play with fire and you play with Karmic Law.

    • ac2012 says:

      Nonsense. The facts are very well documented, and you are repeating tabloid lies.

    • Ienpu says:

      Yeah..Gandhi Looked Fabulous. Your New Age nonsense holds no water and is the response of someone who knows little to nothing on any of the subjects you spoke of above. Epic Fail.

    • Bob says:

      Well you know what even if you were right that’s a lot better then defameing an amazing name like Diana by being an idiot. Just thought it might help you get through life to realize that.

    • Julia Stockigt says:

      It is clear that you know not of what you speak. You betray your own ignorance when you put your name to these worn out gibes having obviously never read any of Crowley’s varied works yourself. You have chosen instead to parrot off from among the copious collections of slanderous fearmongering that so many have heaped upon To Mega Therion, both during his life and since his death.
      During the prudish and xenophobic victorian era in which Crowley began his work, simply studying Tantric or Kabbalistic lore was enough to condemn him to the sort of rumour-slinging which continues to this day.
      The benefit of hindsight we have today makes it apparent that much of the hatred directed at the man during his lifetime was homophobic in origin. It is difficult to understand how these predudices against him can still prevail today, until we examine his outspoken views on drug use. For of all the loathsome prejudices projected upon minorities through the ages (think antisemitism, the witch trials, the communist scourge, racism, classism and religious persecution of all kinds), is there any which prevails more markedly today in a legal, political and social context than the villification of recreational or religious drug use?
      Of course he was fully aware of these tendencies toward hysteria in the masses, and it was not without glib humour that he named himself the Great Beast666, (which interestingly is represented kabbalistically as www), and was in turn driven out of England, and later Italy. (see Temple at Cefalu)
      During his lifetime he attained great skill as both a poet and mountain climber. He also travelled widely to Mexico, Russia, China, Northern Africa, the Middle East and India-during which time he climbed extensively in the Himalayas. On his many travels he immersed himself fearlessly in the local culture, preferring to shun the ‘grande tour’ mentality of most European travellers of the day.
      The prophetic utterings he recorded concerning the era in which we now live, if nothing else, are enough for sincere seekers of knowledge and truth to engage in further study, and he wanted it no other way. He was a great champion of the sacred freedom of the
      Individual within the perameters of Thelemic practice, and his attitude to drug use reflected this. He despised the hypocracy evidenced in the inconsistant and racist laws prohibiting drug use, in both the sacred and profane social contexts.
      His work was dedicated to the aim of religion,(using) the method of science, and he held himself to the same stringent standards as those around him.
      Perderabo was one of his mottos. It means ‘I Shall Endure’, which is a good thing and lucky for us because he was clearly so far ahead of his times.

  6. Frater oMen says:

    What some of the critics perpetuating those myths fail to realize is that according to the Bible Jesus the Christ died a betrayed, publicly humiliated, penniless criminal.

  7. Pingback: Ten Crowley Myths Busted by AC2012 | Aleister Crowley 2012

  8. David says:

    Concerning deathbed perplexity, PLEASE see line 666 (!) of “The Ascension” from “The Sword of Song”.

  9. Pingback: 10 More Reasons to Support Aleister Crowley in 2012 | Aleister Crowley 2012

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  11. Lon Milo DuQuette says:

    …I seem to recall someone else’s last words were, “Father, why hast thou forsaken me?”

  12. ac2012 says:

    Yeah, that makes so much more sense than the report of the person who was actually there. Not.

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