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Crowley and Satan redux

To: alt.magick,alt.satanism
From: (Tim Maroney)
Subject: Crowley and Satan redux (was Accept Satan!)
Date: 28 Dec 95 09:09:38 GMT (Bill Heidrick) writes:
>>>Crowley was not a Satanist, by his own assertion to the contrary. (Tim Maroney) writes:
>>Bill, you keep saying this, but you have yet to produce a quote to
>>substantiate this supposed disavowal. (Bill Heidrick) writes:
>Every time I point it out, Tim, you post right back that you read it
>the opposite way.  I can't be responsible for your reading skills.
>There's little point in pursuing the matter with you if you are entrenched.

If my position results from some personal failing, it is apparently a
common problem, while your own superior insight is unusual. I say this
because no one else reads the passage in question the way that you do.

The passage has been commented on here by four people: you, Tyagi, Jess
Karlin, and myself. Of these, only you have interpreted it as some sort
of disavowal of Satanism on Crowley's part. We three others have all
pointed out what seems obvious on the surface of the text: Crowley is
discussing two different meanings of "the Devil". You have declined to
respond at all to the point-by-point readings by Tyagi and Jess, but
perhaps you will respond to mine, even though I am saying nothing new.

Crowley claims that the first meaning of "the Devil" is an error:

    The Devil does not exist. It is a false name invented by the Black
    Brothers to imply a Unity in their ignorant muddle of dispersions.
    A devil who had unity would be a God.

Here he is using "Black Brothers" in an extended sense of the meaning
Blavatsky gave the phrase. She meant the Jesuits, whom she saw lurking
behind every bush (no doubt consorting in obscene practices with Anna
Kingsford). Crowley means the evil adepts who, in his eyes, founded
Christianity. He is saying that the Devil as imagined by Christians,
and particularly (as demonstrated by the context, a section on "Pacts
with the Devil") the sort of being with whom one could make a deal for
one's soul, does not exist and is a delusion. All well and good.

He then goes on in a footnote to this passage to state another
idea about this non-existent Devil:

    "The Devil" is, historically, the God of any people that one 
    personally dislikes.

By using the quotes he makes it clear that he is referring to the Devil
as a linguistic entity rather than an actually existing being. The
meaning here is the same as above, when he referred to "The Devil" as
"a false name".

The footnote does not end there, however. It goes on to expound another
meaning of the names "the Devil" and "Satan":

    This has led to so much confusion of thought that THE BEAST 666 has
    preferred to let names stand as they are, and to proclaim simply
    that AIWAZ --- the solar-phallic-hermetic "Lucifer" is His own Holy
    Guardian Angel, and "The Devil" SATAN or HADIT of our particular
    unit of the Starry Universe. This serpent, SATAN, is not the enemy
    of Man, but He who made Gods of our race, knowing Good and Evil; He
    bade "Know Thyself!" and taught Initiation.  He is "the Devil" of
    the Book of Thoth, and His emblem is BAPHOMET, the Androgyne who is
    the hieroglyph of arcane perfection.

Crowley embraces this other Satan enthusiastically, identifying him
with Hadit -- one of the three gods of the Thelemic trinity -- as a
synonym in the phrase "'The Devil' SATAN or HADIT". He reiterates the
origin of the mythic "Beast 666", his own title as the Magus who
uttered the word Thelema, identified here (as in the Book of
Revelations and in Liber Samekh) as the servant of Satan.

I find it impossible to imagine any passage more plainly Satanic than
this, nor one that more firmly establishes that for Crowley, Satanism
and Thelema were inextricably intertwined. If you wish to try to
extricate them, you are free to do so, but pretending Crowley would
agree with you is mere revisionism.

>Fact of the matter is, Crowley was pretty much atheist about these things.
>He did postulate some sort of intelligent guidance, most of the time.
>He did use images and myths to focus his mind.  At times of candor and
>in the extremis of his work, he plainly stated these matters to be
>unknowable at best and more commonly cantrips of the mind.  His work was
>to create a pattern and a method, not promote belief in twaddle.  

Again, you have repeatedly claimed Crowley's agnosticism on the reality
of the gods, but you have not cited a single passage from his work to
demonstrate this fact. I quoted several passages from his final summary
of his philosophy, _Magick_Without_Tears_, in which he stated outright
that the gods were real individuals. You gave no coherent rebuttal to
these direct quotations.

Crowley believed in a strict hierarchy of spiritual beings. At the
lower levels (spirits, angels, and such) the beings might or might not
be simply parts of one's own unconscious mind which are convenient to
exteriorize. The main work of magick in his eyes, though -- and the
most important work of humanity -- was the formation of contact with
genuinely exterior spiritual intelligences. You know as well as I do
where he says this in _MTP_ and _MWT_, so I won't quote him here.

Crowley's agnostic writings on the subject always refer clearly to
spirits and not to gods. There is not a trace of skepticism about gods
in his work. The closest thing is the beginners' admonition in Liber O,
which is merely an insistence that the novice mage not jump to
conclusions, rather than a statement of philosophical agnosticism.

Again, I _agree_ with the agnostic position you are expressing, as a
matter of my own personal philosophy, but Crowley did not. You are
making a classic mistake of religious people by ascribing your own
views to your prophet. If you think the belief in literal gods is
twaddle, I would be inclined to agree with you, but the fact is that
Crowley _did_ promote exactly this kind of "twaddle."

>When Crowley characterized the gods as personified forces of nature,
>I hardly think that he meant the forces of nature developed personalities.

You have not given any citation in Crowley's work where he referred to
the gods as personified forces of nature.

>Rather the meaning is that human beings use the modes of their own
>interaction to model things like people to conceptualize nonhuman matters.

A fine Advaitist position, but not Crowley's.

It is simply not true to say that "Crowley was not a Satanist, by his
own assertion to the contrary". He never made any statement of the form
"I am not a Satanist", while he did repeatedly make statements exalting
Satan as a religious ideal who was critically intertwined with central
symbols of Thelema (Aiwaz, Hadit, the Great Beast and Scarlet Woman).
He took Satanic mottos at his two highest manifest grades: the motto of
Doctor Faust at Master of the Temple ("V.V.V.V.V.") and the Great Beast
of Revelation at Magus ("To Mega Therion"). At his other primary
mystical grade, Adeptus Minor, he claimed to attain knowledge and
conversation of his "Holy Guardian Angel" through his most explicitly
Satanic ritual, Liber Samekh, which contains repeated ritual
invocations of Satan under that name and supplements them with an
equally Satanic commentary. Much later in life he still associated his
Holy Guardian Angel with Satan and Lucifer, as demonstrated in the
passage quoted above. The single passage you cited as evidence of his
disavowal of Satanism actually shows the exact opposite, as he
enthusiastically avows Satanism and links it with Thelema.

Your statement is a biographical falsehood. It is indefensible, and it
should be retracted.
Tim Maroney.  Please CC all public responses to

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