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Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr offer the first comprehensive examination of one of the twentieth century's most distinctive occult iconoclasts. Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) was a study in contradictions. He was born into a Fundamentalist Christian family, then educated at Cambridge where he experienced both an intellectual liberation from his religious upbringing and a psychic awakening that led him into the study of magic. He was a stock figure in the tabloid press of his day, vilified during his life as a traitor, drug addict and debaucher; yet he became known as the perhaps most influential thinker in contemporary esotericism. The practice of the occult arts was understood in the light of contemporary developments in psychology, and its advocates, such as William Butler Yeats, were among the intellectual avant-garde of the modernist project. Crowley took a more drastic step and declared himself the revelator of a new age of individualism. Crowley's occult bricolage, Magick, was a thoroughly eclectic combination of spiritual exercises drawing from Western European ceremonial magical traditions as practiced in the nineteenth-century Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Crowley also pioneered in his inclusion of Indic sources for the parallel disciplines of meditation and yoga. The summa of this journey of self-liberation was harnessing the power of sexuality as a magical discipline, an instance of the "sacrilization of the self " as practiced in his co-masonic magical group, the Ordo Templi Orientis. The religion Crowley created, Thelema, legitimated his role as a charismatic revelator and herald of a new age of freedom under the law of "Do what thou wilt." The influence of Aleister Crowley is not only to be found in contemporary esotericism-he was, for instance, a major influence on Gerald Gardner and the modern witchcraft movement-but can also be seen in the counter-culture movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and in many forms of alternative spirituality and popular culture. This anthology, which features essays by leading scholars of Western esotericism across a wide array of disciplines, provides much-needed insight into Crowley's critical role in the study of western esotericism, new religious movements, and sexuality.
Henrik Bogdan is Associate Professor of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religions, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden; Martin P. Starr is an independent Scholar.
Contributors ; List of Figures ; List of Tables ; Foreword - Wouter J. Hanegraaff ; 1. Introduction - Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr ; 2. The Sorcerer and His Apprentice: Aleister Crowley and the Magical Exploration of Edwardian Subjectivity - Alex Owen ; 3. Varieties of Magical Experience: Aleister Crowley's Views on Occult Practice - Marco Pasi ; 4. Envisioning the Birth of a New Aeon: Dispensationalism and Millenarianism in the Thelemic Tradition - Henrik Bogdan ; 5. The Great Beast as a Tantric hero: The Role of Yoga and Tantra in Aleister Crowley's Magick - Gordan Djurdjevic ; 6. Continuing Knowledge from Generation unto Generation: The Social and Literary Background of Aleister Crowley's Magick - Richard Kaczynski ; 7. Aleister Crowley and the Yezidis - Tobias Churton ; 8. The Frenzied Beast: The Phaedran Furores in the Rites and Writings of Aleister Crowley - Matthew D. Rogers ; 9. Aleister Crowley: Freemason! - Martin P. Starr ; 10. "The One Thought that was not Untrue": Aleister Crowley and A. E. Waite - Robert R. Gilbert ; 11. The Beast and the Prophet: Aleister Crowley's Fascination with Joseph Smith - Massimo Introvigne ; 12. Crowley and Wicca - Ronald Hutton ; 13. Through the Witch's Looking Glass: The Magick of Aleister Crowley and the Witchcraft of Rosaleen Norton - Keith Richmond ; 14. The Occult Roots of Scientology? L. Ron Hubbard, Aleister Crowley and the Origins of the World's Most Controversial New Religion - Hugh Urban ; 15. Satan and the Beast. The Influence of Aleister Crowley on Modern Satanism - Asbjorn Dyrendal ; Index
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