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Aleister Crowley: Crowleanity Confronts the Bigotry of the Beast

Aleister Crowley: A Legacy of Racism and Nationalism

and Other Forms of BIGOTRY
in the Writings of

These documents grew out of discussions in Usenet and in the Thelema93-L discussion group. They are archived with permission of the writers.


by nagasiva yronwode (333):

Crowleyanity inspires the castigation of those who impugn the Prophet. I suppose criticism of what has been written by my partner [catherine] inspires my breadth of response. we each have our dedications.

Anyone who studies Crowley's "Confessions" and reads rational biographies of the man will admit he was a bigot, a misogynist, and a misanthrope, hopelessly addicted to psychoactives and borne aloft on several delusions of grandeur rather unsubstantiated by social agents from whom he might wish to claim his authority.

the stories of his life are filled with egotism, callousness, neglect, arrogance, bigotry and an obvious LACK of what I would call 'spirituality'.

this should give ANYONE who regards this man as any kind of authority on spiritual matters pause, for if he is the result of his 'disciplines and practices' (and isn't just flat out LYING about what he said he did), then they didn't seem to have provided him with anything approaching compassion or what he sorely lacked -- AGAPE. inasmuch as his assertions that AGAPE and THELEMA are in some mysterious way identical, his largely inherited means which he squandered were in no very significant way assisted by his sore lacking thereof.

the criticism was based on his ambiguous use of controversial terminology. it can be substantiated quite easily if one but looks to his "Confessions" and reads anything published about him that isn't an apology. let me give you an example or two:

Crowley's Brand of "Feminism"

[RE years at Cambridge University] My sexual life was very intense. My relations with women were entirely satisfactory. They gave me the maximum of bodily enjoyment and at the same time symbolized my theological notions of sin. Love was a challenge to Christianity. It was a degradation and a damnation. Swinburne had taught me the doctrine of justification by sin. Every woman that I met enabled me to affirm magically that I had defied the tyranny of the Plymouth Brethren and the Evangelicals. At the same time women were the source of romantic inspiration; and their caresses emancipated me from the thraldom of the body. When I left them I found myself walking upon air, with my soul free to wing its way through endless empyreans and to express its godhead in untrammelled thought of transcendent sublimity, expressed in language which combined the purest aspirations with the most majestic melodies.... But, morally and mentally, women were for me beneath contempt. They had no moral ideals. They were bound up with their necessary preoccupation, with the function of reproduction. Their apparent aspirations were camouflage. Intellectually, of course, they did not exist. Even the few whose minds were not completely blank had them furnished with Wardour Street Chippendale. Their attainments were those of the ape [a name he gave one of his "Scarlet Women" -- 'The Ape of Thoth', among a few other animal names for others] and the parrot. These facts did not deter me. On the contrary, it was highly convenient that one's sexual relations should be with an animal with no consciousness beyond sex.
"The Confessions of Aleister Crowley", Crowley, edited by Symonds and Grant, Arkana 1989; pp. 142-3.
"oh wait", I can hear you saying, "that was him talking about his attitudes when just a lad in college!" the problem is that it doesn't seem that Crowley really ever outgrew these attitudes about women or sexuality, and this can be seen by the numerous misogynous statements:
There is yet a further point. My marriage taught me many lessons, and this not the least: when women are not devoted to children -- a few rare individuals are suited to other interests - they take a morbid pleasure in conspiring against a husband, especially if he be a father.
He believed that women in general had a very specific role in relation to their men, that of
his consubstantial complement even as the earth is to the sun.
That in relation to the man
all women are subordinate to his true will.
[Magick Without Tears, p. 254]

in fact, "Magick Without Tears", which contains letters written by Crowley near the END of his life, between 1943-44, exhibit the same type of misinformed, sexist attitudes he had carried throughout his lifetime. in other words, for all his grandiose ideas of his 'spiritual progress and position', he never broke free of his sexist beliefs.

his racism does not appear to have fared much better, as a deeper examination of his actual *usage* (rather than mere reference) of the words 'nigger' and 'Jew' demonstrate -- they were almost completely used in the *derogatory* sense.

there are many examples of his association of ridiculous and demeaning characters with Jews, and rather than distance himself from what he might be describing in "Monsters..." as a dream of a minority class in power, he appears to accept his role as one of the 'dominant Brits' and persistently USE these terms himself in the presumption that 'white men were of higher moral quality than other races'. two important examples should suffice to prove this through a portion of his life:

comments (undisputed referral from his friend Lytton) like

...the main psychological difference between the Chinese and Indian as regards practical dealings with them. The Chinese does not respect the white man as the Indian does -- for his possession of high moral qualities.
'Confessions', pp. 471-2.
The prejudice against half-castes [i.e. British- Chinese children in this case] requires analysis. It is not the mixture of blood, as a rule, that makes the majority of them such degraded specimens of humanity, but the circumstances usually attending their birth....
Ibid., pp. 473-4.
set the stage for the truly blatant assessments like
The doctor was a Bengali named Ram Lal Sircar, a burly nigger of the most loathsome type. I am not fond of Bengali at the best and he was the worst specimen of his race I have ever seen.
Ibid., pp. 473-4.
We [the British] conquered the [Indian] peninsula by sheer moral superiority....

It was atrocious folly to allow Indians to come to England to study, to mix freely with our women, often to marry or seduce them....

But we did worse. In the name of religion and morality (as usual!) we committed a political blunder, which was also a social crime, by permitting and even encouraging white women to go out to India.

To begin with, they cannot stand the climate, which compels them to live lives whose inevitable tendency is to relax the moral fibre. Thus even high-class memsahibs sometimes have themselves bathed in their beras. The excuse is that any sexual irregularity with such inferior animals is unthinkable. But 'a man's a man for a' that.' Incidentally, the heat increases the female lasciviousness as it decreases the male. White women are thus subject to continual nervous irritation of which they often fail to suspect the character. Besides, the healthiest of them is usually more or less ailing in various minor respects. They are usually short-tempered from this and other causes, and any species of lack of self-control has a fatal effect on the attitude of the native.
Ibid., pp. 283-4.

it is, to me, incredibly plain that Crowley believed in some version of the Blavatskian 'root race ideas' and that these racist attitudes may have been nurtured in him by virtue of his social and economic class. that he did not overcome these socio-cultural blinders, as can be evidenced by such obviously racist manifestoes as that on 'The Three Schools of Magick' in "Magick Without Tears" (again written near the END of his life) should leave us wondering whether these elitist, ceremonial, rites of 'self-development' serve to do more than more firmly engrain the individual with Herd-tendencies, rather than to actually go any distance toward liberation as is often claimed.

for those who still wish to argue the point:

why don't you show us something more substantial by quoting something from Crowley which indicates HIS attitudes include feminism? he may well have written text in "The Law is For All" that has his holy scripture containing quasi-feminist proclamations, but the rest of his work seems to indicate that he was a backward bigot whose ethics and compassion were seriously debilitated by an abuse of the psychoactive substances to which he enjoyed claiming he was not addicted.

E666 and blessed beast!

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