I took an immediate dislike to him [Crowley], but he interested and amused me. He was a great talker and he talked uncommonly well. In early youth, I was told, he was extremely handsome, but when I knew him he had put on weight, and his hair was thinning […] He was a fake, but not entirely a fake. […] He was a liar and unbecomingly boastful, but the odd thing was that he had actually done some of the things he boasted of.
W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM, Introduction to the 1986 edition of The Magician
The story of Argenteum Astrum is really the story of one man: Aleister Crowley, also known amongst other things as ‘The Great Beast’ and ‘The Wickedest Man on Earth’. Both soubriquets were earned through his involvement not only with Satanism and illicit drugs, but also with a sinister type of ‘magick’ whose central credo was best summed up in one of Crowley’s own teachings, ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.’ Indeed Crowley saw himself as the Prophet of a New Aeon, a man whose wisdom would supplant that of the Christian era and reveal a new, more libertarian dawn. No wonder that he cast such a dark shadow over the early twentieth century or that he has since been presented as one of the most vile cult leaders of all time, the type of character who caught the eye of the writer Somerset Maugham, said to have based his novel, The Magician (1906) on The Great Beast.
Born in Leamington, in Warwickshire, England on October 12, 1875, Crowley was named Edward Alexander by his doting parents, Emily and Edward Snr. His was a relatively wealthy family and the youngster enjoyed a comfortable Victorian childhood, if not a typical one, as both parents belonged to a strict branch of the Quakers, also known as the Plymouth Brethren.
Religion played an important role in Crowley’s formative years, although as time went on he grew to despise the faith his parents so obviously adored. In his book The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, he wrote that the repressive atmosphere he experienced at home made him, ‘prepared to go out of my way to perform any act which might serve as a magical affirmation of my revolt’.1Even more bizarrely, it was Crowley’s mother, Emily, who seemingly first implanted the idea into her son’s mind that he was some type of antichrist, one whom she hoped would soon see the light and be redeemed but who instead began to revel in his role as Beast.
In 1895, at the age of twenty, Crowley entered Trinity College, Cambridge where he spent the next three years enjoying his newly acquired freedom. These were good years where he read widely (if somewhat esoterically) and dabbled with the idea of eventually joining the diplomatic service. This was, however, only one of several career plans that never quite reached fruition. Instead, at the age of twenty-three, Crowley decided to join an occult secret society known as The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a relatively new group founded in 1887 by William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and which boasted among its members such luminaries as the Irish poet, W. B. Yeats. The Golden Dawn was a highly influential society, one that claimed to synthesize several branches of religion and magic such as the Kabbalah, alchemy, tarot, astrology, divination, numerology, Masonic symbolism and ritual magic into one cohesive, logical whole.
Adopting the magical name of ‘Perdurabo’, which in Latin means ‘I will endure’, Crowley was eager to submerse himself in study and spent many hours poring over various of the society’s core tomes. The reward for this hard work was that he rapidly rose through the Golden Dawn’s ranks, but his presence wasn’t always seen as beneficial and soon enough Crowley had managed to fragment the group to the extent that barely two years after he had first joined, he was expelled. Understandably angry, he decided to travel to Mexico to continue his magical studies. He also decided to form what would become the first in a long line of societies, the Lamp of the Invisible Light, albeit that this was still affiliated to the Golden Dawn. Better known by the abbreviation LIL, according to Crowley it was begun with the full knowledge and encouragement of Samuel Mathers, although LIL never seems to have numbered more than two members. The first was Crowley and the second was someone known as Don Jesus Medina (undoubtedly a pseudonym). Having established the society, Crowley quickly grew bored of it, preferring instead to pursue his own studies and fulful his wish to learn how to render oneself invisible. ‘I reached a point,’ wrote Crowley, ‘where my physical reflection in a mirror became faint and flickering. It gave very much the effect of the interrupted images of the cinematograph in its early days.’2 Whether this reveals early signs of psychological disturbance has been debated over many years, but what these words do illustrate is Crowley’s unremitting sense of himself, his own abilities and power.
After Mexico, the great magician then moved on to India and a little later to France, only returning to England in 1903. He then met and married a woman by the name of Rose Kelly. The following year, the couple traveled to Egypt and it was here, according to Crowley, that he had the most formative experience of his entire career.
Aleister Crowley began his life as an occultist at the age of twenty-three when he joined an organization known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, but was expelled from the order after only two years for causing turmoil within its ranks.
For quite some time, Crowley had been attempting to call up his Holy Guardian Angel, something he believed everyone possessed, though few were fortunate enough to experience. His experiments had met with little success until his stay in Egypt where he tried to summon up sylphs for Rose’s enjoyment. Suddenly, Rose said she began to experience some type of psychic message from the Egyptian god, Horus. At first, Crowley was sceptical. Rose, after all, had never displayed any type of psychic or clairvoyant gift before but, following several days of intensive questioning, Crowley became convinced that his wife had indeed become the conduit for messages between himself and the god. For three days, Crowley took dictation from an emissary of the god, a ‘personage’ by the name Aiwass, dictation that resulted in a text, Liber Al vel Legis, which is now commonly referred to as The Book of the Law. In it Crowley (or Aiwass) lays down three basic philosophies, the first being ‘Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole of the Law,’ the second, ‘Love Is The Law, Love Under Will’ and the third, ‘Every Man And Every Woman Is A Star.’
The book also names Crowley as the prophet of a New Aeon and, therefore, the supreme magical authority, over-ruling all others. Given Crowley’s megalomaniac tendencies, it wasn’t long before he gleefully reported this ‘promotion’ to his onetime friend and Golden Dawn founder, Samuel Mathers. The result was instant warfare; a kind of magical duel in which it is said the two men cast spells over each other. Mathers was supposed to have sent an evil force to attack Crowley’s hunting dogs, which he kept back in England, causing them to die as well as making Crowley’s servants fall seriously ill. In retaliation, Crowley summoned the help of Beelzebub and his forty-nine servitor spirits, after which Mathers’ attacks ceased and peace was restored.
By this time Rose had fallen pregnant and, on July 28, 1904, having returned to England, she gave birth to a daughter whom Crowley named Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith. To explain himself Crowley wrote the following note:
Nuit was given in honor of our Lady of the Stars; Ma, goddess of justice, because the sign of Libra was rising; Ahathoor, goddess of Love and Beauty, because Venus rules Libra; I’m not sure about the name Hecate, but it may have been a compliment to the infernal gods; a poet could hardly do less than commemorate the only lady who ever wrote poetry, Sappho; Jezebel still held her place as my favorite character in Scripture; and Lilith, of course, holds undisputed possession of my affections in the realm of demons.
Perhaps due to the birth of his daughter, Crowley grew less and less interested in the realms of magic and in 1905 he decided to take part in a climbing expedition to Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas. The climb was to prove fatal for several members of the team but, seemingly unperturbed by these deaths, Crowley continued his travels through India then on to Japan and China, from where he went to North America before sailing back to England. It was not until his return that he learned of his daughter’s death. Rose and Nuit had followed Crowley out to India for the first leg of his tour, but the little girl had contracted typhoid in Rangoon (now Yangon) and, although hospitalized, had died shortly afterwards.
Grieving the death of his daughter and increasingly estranged from Rose, who had begun to drink heavily, Crowley renewed a ‘magical collaboration’ with an old friend of his from his time with the Golden Dawn, a man called George Cecil Jones. The two friends decided to form a new magical order, one whose driving force and leadership would be left in Crowley’s capable hands and whose name was to be Argenteum Astrum or the A. IA.I
In many respects the A. IA. I was a continuation of the Golden Dawn. Crowley and Jones reintroduced the Golden Dawn Neophyte Ritual, the purpose of which was ‘to transform the consciousness of the “Candidate” by severing the continuity of his life and directing him upon the hitherto invisible spiritual path.’3 Robed and blindfolded, the new recruit was led into a consecrated temple. He would then choose a motto, just as Crowley chose ‘Perdurabo’ at his initiation, after which the candidate took an oath swearing that he would keep secret all the mysteries of the group. He was made to listen to various chants and instructions, before being asked to kneel. The blindfold was then removed and the candidate welcomed into the order.
One of the first men to undergo this ritual was Captain John Frederick Charles Fuller who joined the A. IA. I in 1906, taking the magical name of Per Ardua Ad Astra, ‘through effort to the stars.’
Meanwhile, Rose, having fallen pregnant for a second time, gave birth to another daughter, this time named Lola Zaza. Due to Rose’s heavy drinking, Crowley had all but left the family home and set himself up in a bachelor flat where he entertained several lovers, two of whom, Ada Leverson and Vera Snepp, were written about extensively in his poetry. But Crowley’s verses weren’t the only writing he produced during this period for, in 1907, what later became known as the Holy Books began to be ‘received’ much as had happened with The Book of the Law. Crowley claimed to write the texts as though they were dictated from another dimension through a type of unconscious channeling of ideas. At the same time, he also produced what he considered one of his finest works, a satirical drama called The World’s Tragedy, in the preface to which he expounded some of his more outrageous theories. It included a defence of sodomy in the context that ‘there seems no better way to avoid the contamination of woman and the morose pleasures of solitary vice. (Not that women themselves are unclean. It is the worship of them as ideals that rots the soul).’4 The preface also contains a reference to the seduction of young boys (Crowley had always been attracted to men as well as to women and through his life conducted several homosexual affairs), indeed one of his main goals during this period was the recruitment of such into the A. IA. I Both he and Fuller traveled to Oxford and Cambridge Universities with the intention of signing up new members, one of whom Crowley immediately fell in love with, a man by the name of Victor Neuberg (whose chosen A. IA. I soubriquet was Omnia Vincam meaning ‘I shall conquer all’.) The hapless Neuberg thereafter followed Crowley to Paris (where the latter was living temporarily), where a bizarre type of sexual initiation took place.
The design of this ceremonial seal was commissioned by Aleister Crowley for use in rituals performed by members of his Argenteum Astrum, or Silver Star, secret society.
Neuberg had confessed to Crowley that he was a virgin, a confession that prompted Crowley to devise a devious plan, ensuring that ever afterward he, Crowley, would be Neuberg’s sexual master. The plan involved a woman with whom Crowley had been conducting an affair, Euphemia Lamb (wife of the artist Henry Lamb.) Crowley encouraged his young student to fall in love with Euphemia and eventually propose to her after which Crowley persuaded Neuberg that he had to visit a prostitute so that he at least knew the rudiments of sex. After this was accomplished, Crowley, pretending that he knew nothing of Neuberg and Euphemia’s engagement, advised the student to tell Euphemia of his sexual infidelity, a confession which prompted the ‘wronged’ Euphemia to reject her suitor outright. Neuberg was understandably distraught, but three days later Crowley engineered an even worse turn of events for he had Neuberg visit his bedroom where the young man witnessed Euphemia in a state of complete undress sitting on Crowley’s bed. Naturally, his vision of the purity of womanhood was shattered forever, and Crowley had proved himself Neuberg’s sexual superior. It was a tough lesson, but it was only the first in a long line of brutalities Neuberg was to suffer.
Over the following few months, Crowley forced Neuberg to follow a course of vigils and fasts after which he insisted that he and his student should travel through Spain and Morocco on foot. Neuberg then took a Vow of Holy Obedience to Crowley. One can only imagine how arduous this journey was, both mentally and physically, but during this time Crowley and Neuberg, master and student, began a sexual relationship.
It was also during these long, unbroken walks that Crowley decided to set up a magazine whose central aim was the promotion of Argenteum Astrum. Called The Equinox, and published twice yearly at the spring and winter equinoxes, the magazine was devoted to ‘magic, yoga and other mystical disciplines’6 with most of the articles penned by Crowley while Captain Fuller, as Crowley’s trusted second-in-command, contributed many of the illustrations.
Crowley also channeled his energies into a recruitment drive, much of which centered around Cambridge University. As well as persuading Victor Neuberg to become his disciple, he also recruited two other students into the order, Kenneth Ward and Norman Mudd. The Senior Dean of Trinity College, the Reverend R. St. J. Parry, however, was furious at what he saw as Crowley’s poaching of his pupils, not to mention the content of Crowley’s teachings which he regarded as highly contentious. Parry banned Crowley from entering the college and demanded that Mudd and Ward sever all ties with their ‘spiritual’ leader.
Never one to be cowed by figures of authority, Crowley instead concentrated his efforts on Neuberg, retiring with him to his house in Scotland, Boleskin, where he lived with Rose, but where he now set Neuberg further tasks and tests. Most of these involved solitary confinement within his bedroom, the only interruptions being the serving of meals brought by Crowley himself. Understandably, many commentators have condemned the abusive, ultimately sadomasochistic nature of such a relationship, with Crowley quite literally in control of Neuberg’s life. Critics have also pointed out that Crowley and his student no doubt had sexual relations during this period, and it is also probable that Neuberg’s final test as a Probationer wanting to attain full membership of Argenteum Astrum was the performance of a sacred sexual act with his teacher. Whatever the case, there is evidence that Neuberg at times found Crowley’s methods unnecessarily vicious. On more than one occasion he scourged Neuberg on his back and buttocks with a gorse switch and also a bunch of nettles.
My worthy Guru is quite unnecessarily rude and brutal, I know not why. Probably he does not know himself. He is apparently brutal merely to amuse himself and to pass the time away. Anyhow I won’t stick it any more.
It seems to me unnecessary and brutal rudeness is the prerogative of a cad of the lowest type […] It is ungenerous also to abuse one’s position as a Guru:
It is like striking an inferior who will be ruined if he dares to retaliate.7
At the end of Neuberg’s first period of solitary confinement, far from allowing his student any respite, his Guru announced a further ten days’ physical discomfort during which Neuberg was to stay naked in his room with only a bed of gorse to sleep on.
With all this happening, it is hard to believe Crowley had time to concentrate on other matters but it was also during this period that he divorced Rose, whose alcoholism had grown out of all control. Rose was later committed to an asylum, although once out of Crowley’s clutches she did recover and, on her release, remarried.
Meanwhile, Crowley and his main disciple, Neuberg, took a trip to Northern Africa where they continued their master/servant relationship while studying and writing together. On their return, Crowley continued working on The Equinox whose offices at 124 Victoria Street in London also served as a meeting place for the A. IA. I , where everyone would gather together to talk, drink and experiment with drugs. Perhaps as a rebuttal of his homosexual affair with Neuberg, Crowley also took several female lovers, most of whom were members of the group and, therefore, open to much the same types of abuse as Neuberg had been.
Unconcerned about the growing criticism of his activities, Crowley now determined to stage a play, The Rites of Eleusis, whose main aim was the merging of poetry, dance, magic ritual and music into a vehicle that would heighten the consciousness of all those involved. A second reason for staging The Rites was to expand the membership of the A. IA. I, for in recent months numbers had dropped and Crowley’s personal finances were looking somewhat unhealthy. Nevertheless, by staging the play in public and in full view of the British press, Crowley was opening himself not only to ridicule, but to outrage. One tabloid newspaper published four articles attacking both the play and its producer. The Looking Glass was a racing paper, edited by West De Wend Fenton who made it his duty to expose Crowley, warts and all.
Remember the doctrine which we have endeavored faintly to outline, remember the long periods of complete darkness – remember the dances and the heavily scented atmosphere, the avowed object of which is to produce what Crowley terms an ‘ecstasy’ – and then say if it is fitting and right that young girls and married women should be allowed to attend such performances under the guise of the cult of a new religion.8
If this review was scathing, those that followed were even worse, for in part three of his exposé Fenton, referring back to Crowley’s days with the Golden Dawn sect, accused him of engaging in ‘unmentionable immoralities’ with Allan Bennett (Crowley’s one-time mentor and friend). Another Golden Dawn member mentioned in the same paragraph was George Cecil Jones, a married man with four children who was employed as an analytical chemist by a highly respectable company. Naturally the implication was that Jones was also a homosexual, engaged in ‘unmentionable immoralities,’ and indeed it was Jones who eventually decided to sue the Looking Glass for defamation of character.
The trial was held in April 1911 but the outcome pleased no one save Fenton for, although the jury established that Jones had been defamed by implication, they also concurred that the defamation was essentially true. During the trial, much of the evidence submitted centered on Aleister Crowley with one of the chief witnesses being his old adversary, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers. Suddenly it seemed as if their ‘magical duel’ had begun all over again, only this time Mathers had the upper hand.
The fall-out from the trial hit Crowley hard. His most trusted second-incommand, Captain Fuller, announced that he could no longer be acquainted with the group for fear of damaging his career and several other members now decided to leave.
In contrast, one new member of the group was a married woman by the name of Mary Desti who, perhaps due to her striking good looks or to her exceptional gifts, was destined to become Crowley’s new partner. Soon after Crowley had initiated her into the Argentum Astrum as a probationer (with the chosen name Virakam – a combination of the Sanskrit words for ‘man’ and ‘lust’), they traveled to Switzerland and afterwards settled, along with her young son, Preston, in Italy. The ensuing weeks were not idyllic, Preston quickly growing to loathe Crowley, particularly the way in which he treated his mother.
[Crowley’s] repugnant reaction each time my poor mother had so far forgotten his teachings as to utter in his hearing a singular personal pronoun like ‘I’ or ‘me’ or ‘mine.’ The instant his ears were so assaulted, he solemnly withdrew an open penknife from his robe, raised his arm so the loose sleeve of his robe fell back to expose his bare forearm, and then with the penknife slashed a small fresh slice under the ladder of slices he had already incised into his forearm […] Reading about some of his subsequent exploits, I realize that my mother and I were lucky to escape with our lives.9
Although shortly after arriving in Italy Desti had filed for divorce from her husband, Solomon Sturges, eventually she and Crowley parted ways leaving her free to marry a Turkish man called Veli Bey.
Single again, Crowley traveled extensively during this period and continued to write and explore his own particular brand of ‘erotomagick.’ But bad press followed him wherever he went and in 1912 yet another grim episode occurred involving a young woman by the name of Joan Hayes. Employed by Crowley to perform in a rerun of The Rites of Eleusis for which she had to dance on stage with Crowley’s ex-lover Victor Neuberg, the two began an affair. Crowley was far from happy with this, believing that it interfered with his protégé’s work, but the affair continued even after Hayes married another man, Wilfred Merton. The marriage was doomed to failure and six months after it had begun, the two separated, shortly after which, in August 1912, Hayes shot herself through the heart. It was a grisly turn of events, but one made all the more dreadful by Neuberg’s assertion that Crowley had somehow murdered her through a combination of psychological bullying and black magick. Nor was Crowley averse to admitting (however obliquely) to this crime.
An adept known to The Master Therion [Crowley] once found it necessary to slay a Circe who was bewitching brethren. He merely walked to the door of her room, and drew an Astral T (the symbol of Saturn) with an astral dagger. Within 48 hours she shot herself.10
Obviously the above statement cannot be proved, nor is there any doubt that it is anything other than the self-satisfied posturing of a highly egotistical man, but as with other previous examples, it does illustrate the nature of this vain and vile individual. Who else, after all would claim responsibility for killing a harmless woman? Neuberg obviously agreed for save from a brief sojourn with his mentor in Paris, by 1914 he had grown completely disillusioned with Crowley to the extent that he broke off all communications with him. Interestingly, rather like Crowley’s wife, Rose, Neuberg then went on to suffer a complete breakdown, but afterwards recovered enough to marry and later raise a family and run a successful publishing business. Once out of Crowley’s clutches, or so it seemed, everyone stood a good chance of success.
Argenteum Astrum, by way of contrast, was falling apart. Disillusioned by the bad press he had received after the Jones v. The Looking Glass trial and never quite regaining the membership numbers he lost as a result of the court action, Crowley began channeling his energies into other areas. Not that he didn’t continue, but without the support of people such as Captain Fuller and Victor Neuberg, Crowley lost interest and maybe even impetus in his new world order.
Instead he acquainted himself with a German, Rosicrucian magical sect known as the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) – or the Order of the Temple of the Orient – becoming the head of the English-speaking branch some time afterwards. Later, he sat out the majority of World War I in the United States, writing vast amounts of what amounted to anti-British propaganda, while experimenting with drugs such as cocaine, opium and heroin to which he rapidly grew addicted. It was during his American stay that Crowley also met Leah Hirsig – the woman with whom he was to return to England and who was also to give him his third child, Anne Léa – nicknamed Poupée. The couple returned to London separately, but in the early part of 1920 decided to retreat abroad, this time to Italy where they rented the Villa Santa Barbara – a place Crowley soon renamed the Abbey of Thelema – his new religious order. In fact the teachings of Thelema were nothing more than an extension of those of the argenteum Astrum, i.e. its main principle was the founding of a New Aeon although such worthy aims were somewhat undermined by the Abbey’s soon-to-be adopted nickname – the ‘horsel’ (a bowdlerized version of ‘whore’s cell’.) Once more Crowley was in his element, presiding over rituals, practicing his particular brand of erotomagick and indulging in acts of sadomasochism. Hirsig joined him in the latter, and if the following account is true, seemingly enjoyed her role of torturer.
She held a lighted cigarette against my breast. I shrank back and moaned. She spat her scorn, and puffed at it and put it back. I shrank and moaned. She made me fold my arms, sucked at the paper till the tobacco crackled with the fierceness of its burning; she put it back for the third time. I braced myself; I tightened lip and thrust my breast against it.11
New members showed up at the Abbey every week hoping for Crowley’s guidance, but although on the surface things appeared to be going well, the reality was that Crowley had acute financial problems, added to which the seemingly idyllic Villa Santa Barbra was nothing short of an unsanitary slum. Crowley was taking increasing amounts of cocaine and heroine to feed his growing habit – the subject of which became central to a novel written during this period, Diary of a Drug Fiend, in which the central theme is that of a young couple struggling to free themselves from drug addiction. Sadly fiction did not reflect fact, for Crowley never attempted to free himself from his addiction. Instead, he sank into further acts of depravity, at one time creating what he termed the ‘Seth ceremony’ which not only called for a chosen member of his group to have intercourse with a goat but afterwards for the goat to be slaughtered and its blood drunk. With all this afoot and bearing in mind the unsanitary conditions in the abbey, it is hardly surprising that a death knell began to ring. Poupée died on October 14, 1920 at a hospital in Palermo and barely six days later Hirsig, who was pregnant again, suffered a miscarriage. The loss of two children in such quick succession must have been devastating and perhaps it was this that drove Crowley to write his Diary of Drug Fiend. Certainly he was in need of money, but just as when he staged The Rites of Eleusis, the press ripped the novel apart. In particular a critic by the name of James Douglas who worked for the Sunday Express wrote an article entitled ‘A Book for Burning’ in which he said, ‘Although there is an attempt to pretend that the book is merely a study of the deprivation caused by cocaine, in reality it is an ecstatic eulogy of the drug and of its effects upon the body and the mind.’12
Following on from this article, press coverage of Crowley and the fun and games at the villa grew even worse. The Sunday Express printed another article entitled, ‘Aleister Crowley’s Orgies in Sicily’ with the subtitle, ‘The Beast 666.’ With all the bad publicity, one might have thought, new disciples would have been sparse on the ground, but nothing was further from the truth. One of them, Frederick Charles Loveday (better known as Raoul) showed up at the villa with his wife, May, in late 1922. May was never happy in Crowley’s company and constantly begged her husband to leave, particularly when Crowley gave them both razors with which to cut themselves every time they lapsed into using the word ‘I’ – a pronoun only Crowley was allowed to utter.
Aleister Crowley had many articles, essays and books published, both fictional novels and supposedly nonfiction books about ‘magick’ and the occult but his first published work was a poem, Aceldama, in 1898.
By 1923 things had grown even worse, with Raoul falling seriously ill. May put this event down to a combination of factors amongst which was the large quantity of drugs that her husband had begun to take at Crowley’s instigation, alongside the drinking of a cat’s blood as part of a ritual over which Crowley presided. Despite these two health-defying acts however, it was almost certainly the consumption of contaminated water that caused Raoul’s illness. He died on February 16, 1923, three days after which May returned to England where she gave an interview to the Sunday Express who promptly labeled Crowley a ‘drug fiend’ and ‘the spreader of obscene practices.’
Back in Italy, Crowley was handed an expulsion order, an event which prompted him to spend many years wandering the world, forever plagued by his reputation as ‘the wickedest man in the world.’ These were desperate times, with Crowley constantly trying to feed his heroine habit, whilst at the same time in search of more money and disciples. The heydays of the Golden Dawn and Argenteum Astrum were over, and now all that lay ahead were years of isolation without even a publisher willing to print his work.
Aleister Crowley died on December 1, 1947 from myocardial degeneration combined with acute bronchitis. He was seventy-two-years old. There are various accounts of his last words – a Mr. Rowe recorded that they were ‘Sometimes I hate myself’, whilst someone else insisted that, ‘I am perplexed,’ was the last thing he uttered. The truth is however, that at the time of Crowley’s passing, no one else was present in the room, therefore whatever it was he said before he died, fittingly remains secret.