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BHeidrick: Aliester Crowley

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick.order,talk.religion.misc,alt.consciousness,alt.magick.moderated
From: (mordred)
Subject: BHeidrick: Aliester Crowley (Was ...)
Date: 13 Apr 1995 14:06:38 -0700

[from alt.magick: (Bill Heidrick)]

John Charles Webb  wrote:

>much of his breakthroughs were from the use of drugs and alcohol.

Not so much alcohol, and most of the use of drugs was at a time when
the particular drugs were legal.  Freud and the Pope even came out in
favor of use of Cocaine in those times.  Heroin was prescribed as a
"non-addictive" substitute for Morphine in treatment of asthma!
Crowley did manage to obtain some remarkable insights, such as what appears
to be independent discovery of the concept of a vector field (Star Sponge
vision) and often had his drugs from pharmacutical companies under agreement
to report their effects.  "The Herb Dangerous" in _Equinox_ Vol. I is an
example of his collected research from the literature.

>This is fine BUT it seems that he did not do any followup
>rearding the self discipline for inner transformation to clear his
>consciousness and sub-conscious.

This is grossly inaccurate.  Crowley was maimed for longer or shorter
periods of years in consequence of his drug experiments, but he did use
non-drug techniques to work on those matters of self-discipline, inner
transformation &c. (See _Confessions_ and "Temple of Solomon the King"
in _Equinox_ vol. I -- especially the middle portion of the latter).

>It is my understanding that we can
>experience altered and even exalted states of consciousness using
>certain substances (eg. extascy, LSD etc.), however, by truly 
>embracing "The Great Work" we can attain these levels of 
>consciousness naturally.

LSD and Ecstasy did not exist at the time of Crowley's experiments,
although he did receive mescaline derivatives from an American
pharmaceutical company for testing.  It's quite true that these
consciousness levels are only attained and held by non-external-chemical
means, although internal bio-chemistry of the brain and the complex
system of nerves and the ductless glands would appear to be essentially
involved in the process.  Patanjali does list the use of drugs as one
way of attainment, but it would appear that such use is best reserved
for single and controlled experience of potential states to be acquired
and held through other methods in most of the really old tradition of
use of soma.

>I suppose it can be said that certain substances can show the way,


>but, for A. Crowley they "were the way".

Utterly untrue.  Aside from his experiments up to the early 1920's,
Crowley repudiated drug use for enlightenment, complaining bitterly about
the necessity of use of drugs for control of the asthma that plagued him
to his death.  Since most accounts of Crowley's life stop about 1922 e.v.,
with minimal information after that date, this misunderstanding of his
approach is understandable.

>     I found that Crowley put more emphasis on his mind than on 
>cultivating a sense of the sacred.  His work was (is) largely
>intellectual and at times very obtuse and sometimes insane.

This is a creditable matter of opinion, in general; but I would take
exception to the dismissal of "cultivating a sense of the sacred."
Crowley's entire effort seems to have been in that direction -- but
being intellectual by predisposition, his sense of the sacred excluded
most forms of piety of the simple and potentially bigoted type.
All religion and higher philosophy appears to be obtuse and insane
from outside.  Consider Plotinus and Kant.

>     He refused the direction of his mentors and went on to "discover"
>his own interpretation of the path.

Depends on who (or what) you mean by "mentors".
It is impossible to do more than copy without that personal self-
interpretation after a more concentrated period of study.  Simple
copying, being limited analogue, always falls short of the attainment
of the teacher.  It is impossible to attain the goal by duplication of
the lessons of the master --- try oriental martial arts from a serious
teacher for a few years to see this.  You must learn well and with
discipline for a prolonged period, but even throughout that period,
YOU must learn.  It serves little purpose to act as a tape recorder
for someone else's performance and speech.  Until you make these
things your own, through practice at first and self-direction after,
you will acquire only cocktail party cant.

>His dilemma, IMO, is reflected
>in his reversing the strength card and the justice card in his
>version of the tarot.  Traditionally the strength card is the
>invocation of spirit to tame the animal energies that we contain,
>and the justice card, among other things, signifies balance.

Read further in your preparatory discipline.  The G.'.D.'. is responsible
for that switch, not Crowley.  Your interpretations of these two Trumps
are based on very late glosses.  Discipline requires a return to the
essence or origin of the matter --- in this case Fortitude and Justice,
two of the four Roman virtues embodied in Tarot.

>     In the realm of self discipline Crowley was out of control
>and out of balance.

Perhaps at times.  I would say that his self discipline tended to excess
through obsession with detail and precision as often.  See the published
diaries and "Temple of Solomon the King".

>     Much of Crowleys writings reveal a subtle yet pervasive Oedipus

True, and more.  Yet with Freud: "Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar".

>I think that he expressed this by not holdng his teachers
>and mentors in a context of respect and by setting out to "save the
>world" singlehandedly.

Typical reaction when standards are set inhumanly high.  After the
humanity of the teacher intrudes unmistakably, reverse reaction can
set in; e.g. being too serious about something like Roman Catholicism,
until one realizes that no one else takes it so seriously, and then
going off in irrational anger and determination in an opposite direction.

>     In his defense, I suppose all of us have some skeletons in our

I keep mine in a corner, SW. ;-)

>However, Crowley was dishonest in that he never told us
>exactly how he found out what he knew.

Read more.  Citations above.  If he told you more, you would go blind
with detail boredom.  It is unfortunate that his gift for explanation
was mired in assumptions of auditors having read every book he had
read, in the same sequence, with the same attention and in the same
circumstances.  Blame it on his being an only child.

>     He did give us one great rule of Magick ! "Love and do what
>thou wilt" !

You are thinking of Christ and St. Augustine on this one.  Crowley
echoed it.

>I believe that anyone who could have penned that phrase
>understood the essence of the great work.

That aught to bother a lot of Thelemite wanabes!  :-)

>The mischief makes me like him all the more !

I'll shake on that one!

93 93/93
Bill Heidrick

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