A Magick Life: A Biography of Aleister Crowley
Martin Booth  
A Magick Life: A Biography of Aleister Crowley Image Cover
Additional Images
Publisher:Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
Genre:Earth-Based Religions
Purchased On:2006-03-18
Date Added:2006-03-18
Summary: Aleister Crowley, occultist, poet, novelist, bisexual adventurer and drug user was not a man to inspire half-hearted reaction in his own lifetime. He was either adored or vilified. So Martin Booth's crisply written, agenda-free biography which sets out simply to tell the truth objectively is a welcome addition to Crowley literature.
Born to a wealthy brewing family, Crowley, whose parents belonged to the fanatical Plymouth Brethren sect, had a miserably repressed childhood. He spent much of the rest of his life apparently trying to shake off what he regarded as the filth of Christianity. Magic for Crowley, who decided while still at Cambridge in 1898 on a career as a magus, was intrinsically linked to human will. He came to believe that he and his disciples could control almost anything by exerting will. Like the poet WB Yeats he joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Eventually he became leader of the Order of the Oriental Templars or Ordo Templi Orientis, which survives as a huge international cult organisation and gave Booth access to its archives. As Booth says "Crowley may have been oversexed but he was first and foremost a religious and not a debauched character". But famously, and how the tabloid press loved it, Crowley believed that sex was what liberated the creative force necessary to his "work" and he had ritual (and spontaneous) vaginal and or anal intercourse with many hundreds of women and men all over the world. Sometimes the rituals--upon which Booth is to be congratulated for sparing us too many prurient details--involved animals too. Drugs changed the perception of the participants.
Booth's book does what it promises. It provides the extraordinary facts and leaves you to decide for yourself from an informed position whether this man--in whom interest has grown considerably since his death in 1947, especially during the 1960s--was merely a degenerate charlatan or an impassioned, although arguably misguided, magical missionary, pitiful at the end of his life.--Susan Elkin