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(taken from a previous conversation concerning the infamous Aleister Crowley on an online message board)
First of all, Crowley did not die from a heroin overdose. He died of “natural causes” at what many would consider a ripe old age.
Secondly, Crowley was mentally “odd” well before he began using drugs. Anyone who has made a note of his childhood would have observed that.
As far as his drug use is concerned, writing him off as a simple druggie would be the work of one who did not understand the man’s lifestyle. Did he abuse drugs? Certainly. However, every time he smoked opium or hashish, or drank absinthe, or imbibed any of the myriad chemicals he enjoyed he did so with a specific ritual purpose in mind, and wrote down every chant, feeling, sound, smell, taste, and experience that passed by as he was on said drugs — nearly every time he did so. Crowley obsessively recorded everything that he did, said, and felt, and then analyzed it mercilessly. I doubt if you scoured the globe you would be able to find a single “druggie” so well-disciplined.
Now then, as far as the “why do you admire him so” question, I believe that really has to do more with his words than his actions — at least for me, in this case.
If I lived in the same time period as Crowley, and perhaps had the misfortune of interacting with the man, I probably would have beaten him to a pulp and left him for dead. He commonly acted like an arrogant, pompous, misogynistic, immoral, junkie bastard with more mental aberrations than one could possibly quantify. However, he was, in every sense of the word, a “genius”, and there shall never be someone quite like him ever again.
It is his words that intrigue me. I raged like so many young occultists against the works of Crowley for years, due to my hatred of the man’s actions. But, it was a fallacious argument — to hate the works because of the life of the man who wrote them (Ad Hominem), so I gave them a second chance when I was in probably one of the most depressed periods of my life.
And it was as if his works were written just for me.
All of my rage, insecurity, hatred, lust, and need for acceptance and love was found inside of his writings. In the Book of Thoth, in Liber 963, in Liber AL, in ritual descriptions and poetry. His longing for spiritual fulfillment was mine — his self-induced hatred and rigid discipline was my own as well. I understood, for the first time in a long time, where the man was coming from and realized that as much as I might have hated and reviled the attitude and lifestyle of he who wrote those words, we were, inevitably, kindred spirits.
In fact, the chapter on the “Lust” card (Atu XI) in The Book of Thoth is why I took the name “Teth”, it means much much more to me than a simple zodiac correspondence. For as melodramatic as it may sound, so much of my spirit and aspirations are found in the description of that card.
I admire Crowley not only for his genius and his discipline, but for the fact that he was a human raging like we all do against the myriad mundane forces we face day in and day out, and through it all, did his best to make every single day of his life magickal.
He was, very simply, one of us, and for that he has my respect. I despise how the man behaved, but through all the layers of ego and pomp that he swaddled himself with, I believe that through the reading of his works I have glimpsed a piece of his spirit.
In learning to accept and admire that spirit, I have begun learning to accept and admire that which I traditionally despised in myself.
For, after all, no matter how detestable they may behave,
“Every man and every woman is a star.”
© Anthony Teth, 2011