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Aleister Crowley: His Life & Published Works

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

When it comes to the world of occultism, it has to be said that Aleister Crowley is one of the most important and most influential figures in that realm. The Englishman, born in the mid-19th century, went on to become an instrumental presence in the ways of the occult and magic, with many of his writings and books serving as the groundwork for a lot of what came afterwards.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Throughout his life, Crowley authored numerous influential works, including “The Book of the Law” in 1909, which served as the foundational text for Thelema. This book introduced the concept of “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” emphasizing individualism and personal freedom.

“The Book of Lies,” published in 1912, is a cryptic and enigmatic text filled with paradoxes and riddles. It challenges conventional thinking and invites readers to explore the depths of their own understanding.

Crowley’s “Magick Liber ABA” from 1913 remains a comprehensive manual on magick and mysticism, covering various aspects of occult practices, rituals, and spiritual development.

In 1918, Crowley wrote “Absinthe: The Green Goddess,” shedding light on the controversial alcoholic beverage and its association with creativity, mysticism, and intoxication, offering a unique perspective on the subject.

His life

Aleister Crowley was born Edward Alexander Crowley on October 12, 1875 in Warwickshire, England. He was trained in ceremonial magick through the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn where he took the magical name “Frater Perdurabo” (Brother I shall endure to the end) and traveled the world exploring spiritual practices everywhere he went.

He explored Hindu and Buddhist practices in India and spent some time in Mexico, where he was initiated into Freemasonry.

Aleister Crowley Golden Dawn, Wikimedia

In 1904, he traveled to Egypt on his honeymoon (his wife was Rose Edith Kelly) and there he claimed he was spoken to by an incorporeal spirit named Aiwass who dictated to him what he would later publish as The Book of the Law which would serve as the basis for Thelema his own magico-religious spiritual practice.

In 1912, Crowley was inducted into the Ordo Templi Orientis and quickly rose through its ranks to leadership bringing Thelemite philosophy with him and leaving a permanent mark on the order. He also founded the A∴A and the ill-fated Abbey of Thelema, which appeared to be the beginning of the end of Crowley. 

Crowley was a prolific writer and his many works of both prose and poetry have been significant sources of inspiration for many magical practitioners. He is a somewhat controversial figure as he was an unapologetic drug user who enjoyed frequent sex with both men and women. He was by many reports, something of a douche and he led a libertine lifestyle that was offensive to many.

He was accused in his lifetime of being a Satanist and of promoting human sacrifice and he encouraged such speculations with apparent glee, though they were untrue. He has also been criticized for his overly public promotion of magick and accused of being a money-hungry charlatan.

But Crowley started his journey with a great deal of his own money, which he spent largely on travel, education, and less savory pursuits. When his family fortune was exhausted, he was forced to live on membership fees, royalties, and his followers’ goodwill and died virtually penniless.

His rather colorful life story and questionable moral character notwithstanding, his work is hugely influential on many magical systems today and is considered required reading by many.

Famous Quotes

“There is no god but man.”

“Love is the Law, Love under Will.”

Crowley also wrote that “We of Thelema say that ‘Every man and every woman is a star.’ We do not fool and flatter women, we do not despise and abuse them. To us, a woman is herself, absolute, original, independent, free, self-justified, exactly as a man is.” (Crowley, 1904)

His published works

Aleister Crowley created The Thoth Tarot Deck based on his The Book of Throth.

Aleister Crowley’s most important books

The Book of the Law (1909)

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The Book of the Law
  • Crowley, Aleister (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

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One of the things that cemented Aleister Crowley’s position as one of the leading forces in the world of the occult was his creation of the Thelema, which was a social and spiritual movement that paved the way for a lot of different things in this field. And one of the main focal points was the Liber AL vel Legis, which was commonly known as The Book of Law.

It is difficult to comprehend what the book is meant to express if you are a new reader that is not familiar with Crowley’s work and the ways of the occult, but experts in the field have mentioned that is about mankind’s emancipation from all the mental shackles that they have. They have a lot of different interpretations and is one of the most interesting aspects of reading The Book of Law.

As an interesting fact, Crowley himself has stated that he didn’t really write the book, but that his Holy Guardian Angel, Aiwass, wrote it through him. Make of that what you will.

The Book of Lies (1912)

The Book Of Lies
874 Reviews
The Book Of Lies
  • Hardcover Book
  • Crowley, Aleister (Author)

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This book was written during the time that Crowley was joining the Ordo Templi Orientis, which was an organization for the occult that was just starting out in those years. So here you can start to see an evolution in the way that Crowley views things, and how that impacts his writing.

The Book of Lies has 91 chapters and each of them is one page long, with paragraphs, poems and so on, making it a very fascinating experience to go through. Crowley himself stated that this book dealt with many issues in all the possible planes, thus being a read that he deemed a lot more accessible for new readers when compared to his previous work.

It is a very unique read in the grand scheme of Crowley’s bibliography and a bit of a transitional period where his writing was going through a new direction. It is one of those books by Aleister Crowley that could do a very nice job as an introduction of his work to a lot of potential new readers.

Magick Liber ABA (1913)

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Magick: Liber ABA, Book 4
  • Hardcover Book
  • Aleister Crowley (Author)

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Widely regarded as the creative summit of Aleister Crowley’s body of work, this is the one book where a lot of people tend to go when they want to find out what this man was all about. It was done at a point where he was really finding his voice and his perspective as a writer and as an occultist, thus becoming a very significant publication in the life of Aleister Crowley and who he was at the time.

The book itself deals a lot with the many different concepts and interpretations that you could find at the time regarding magic and the occult. In fact, Crowley talks about the practice of the occult in many different parts of Western culture, the practices during medieval times, and many more currents about magic that end up being a dissection of the form itself.

It is a bit of a heavy read, but one that you need to account if you want to fully comprehend who Aleister Crowley was, and what is considered as his peak.

Absinthe: The Green Goddess (1918)

Absinthe - The Green Goddess: A House of Pomegranates Esoteric Edition
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Absinthe - The Green Goddess: A House of Pomegranates Esoteric Edition
  • Crowley, Aleister (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

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Something that has been mentioned a lot throughout the years when discussing Aleister Crowley is not only his body of work and his occultist practices, but also his willingness to consume and experiment with drugs and hallucinogens of many different types. This essay seems to be the culmination of that path for him, from a writer’s perspective.

In this particular essay, Crowley goes into great detail about his feelings and perspective about consuming the hallucinogenic green liquor that helped him feel inspired during different moments in this time period. It is a very unique read, with the classic, over the top nature of Crowley’s writing, but also with a degree of bravery (and perhaps foolishness) as this was written and published during a time there was a huge war on drugs.

Definitely a very important piece in his career, and one that highlights in greater depth the kind of man that he was and his perception on a lot of different things.

The Diary of a Drug Fiend (1922)

Diary of a Drug Fiend and Other Works by Aleister Crowley
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Diary of a Drug Fiend and Other Works by Aleister Crowley
  • Hardcover Book
  • Crowley, Aleister (Author)

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While the vast majority of Aleister Crowley’s body of work is non-fiction and focused on the occult, there were some books of his that were fiction as well. And this one, The Diary of a Drug Fiend, is very important for two reasons: it was the first ever fictional novel that Crowley ever published, and it seemed to be a metaphor on his own drug addiction.

The story follows Sir Peter Pendragon, an aristocrat and World War I veteran that falls into drug addiction after tragedy strikes his life. The book goes to great lengths to show his descent into addiction and how he becomes a slave to cocaine.

Crowley himself admitted that the story was based on real life events and he did some modifications to avoid potential issues, with a lot people claiming it was about him as his drug addiction was a running theme throughout this period of his life.

Moonchild (1929)

Moonchild
199 Reviews
Moonchild
  • Crowley, Aleister (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

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Another of Crowley’s work of fiction, and quite likely the most celebrated and most famous, at that.

Moonchild deals a lot with the knowledge of the occult that Crowley accumulated throughout the years as a group of white magicians battle with a group of black magicians over the soul of an unborn child. It is filled with characters that are based on people that the author himself knew in real life.

It is one of the creative summits of Crowley’s writing and one of those books that have become a reference in what is concerning the occult and magic as a whole. As mere entertainment, it has a lot of interesting things, and the conflict between the magicians is highly engaging.

Magick Without Tears (1954)

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Magick Without Tears
175 Reviews
Magick Without Tears
  • Aleister Crowley (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

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The last book ever published by Crowley, although it was created in 1943 and released to the public after his death.

Beyond the detail of being the last piece of work published regarding Crowley, it also worked as him explaining a lot of concepts about Thelema and his beliefs in the occult to several magick students through letters. It is a fascinating read as it shows a clearer, more direct side of Crowley’s writing and how his system works.

It might be a bit heavy-handed in some points, but it has a lot of value if you are a fan of the occult and want to know more about one of its most influential figures.

Conclusion

His output has an indelible imprint all over this area, and a lot of the modern experts on the field have been influenced by his work, so his presence is still felt to this very day.

Like it happens with the vast majority of writers out there, his work evolved and changed as he gained more life experiences, and managed to learn his trade, which was paramount when you consider how influential he became. That is something that can only happen to those that are meant to influence and change the landscape they are part of.

Mix his desire for learning, his life experiences traveling all over the world, and the quirky, bizarre personality that he had, and you have one of the most creative, and unique writers in all of fiction and non-fiction, which is why so many people have been drawn to his work.

The occult is what it is these days thanks to the output and influence of Aleister Crowley.

Some of Aleister Crowley’s best sellers

SaleBestseller No. 1
Bestseller No. 2
Bestseller No. 3
The Book Of Lies
  • Crowley, Aleister (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
SaleBestseller No. 4
The Book of the Law
  • Crowley, Aleister (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
Bestseller No. 5
Magick in Theory and Practice
  • Crowley, Aleister (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
SaleBestseller No. 6
SaleBestseller No. 7
Magick in Theory and Practice
173 Reviews
Magick in Theory and Practice
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Aleister Crowley (Author) – Benjamin Regan (Narrator)
Bestseller No. 8
The Lesser Key Of Solomon
  • Crowley, Aleister (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
SaleBestseller No. 9
Magick Without Tears
175 Reviews
Magick Without Tears
  • Aleister Crowley (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
SaleBestseller No. 10
The Aleister Crowley Manual: Thelemic Magick for Modern Times
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Marco Visconti (Author) – Robbie Stevens (Narrator)

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Further Reading

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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