His mother was in the habit of calling little Aleister Crowley, "You little beast!" from the book of Revelation. Little did she know the name would stick. Aleister took on the title of the 'Beast' using '666' as his signature name.
Crowley was born Christian but never practised or believed in it, in Royal Lemington Spa in Warwickshire in 1875, a beer brewers son. He studied at Cambridge and after his father died he inherited a considerable sum.
He became heavily interested and involved with the occult, magic and alchemy, joining the 'Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn' with other intellectuals and poets of the time; W.B. Yeats, Dion Fortune to name a few. Deemed too unlikeable of a man and a homosexual, he was expelled. So, he set up his own temple, on the shores of the famous Loch Ness, of sea-monster fame.
He believed in his own form of sacred 'Magick,' always spelling it with a k, using it as a tool to allow him to speak not only to Demons but God himself, using your will alone to make changes to the physical world.
Much of what Crowley wrote about was so distasteful, so shocking, foul and evil that he was labelled a Black Magician. In reality that was far from the truth, he opposed it, even forbade it.
From a newspaper article in 1933.
To practice black magic you have to violate every principle of science, decency and intelligence. You must be obsessed with an insane idea of the importance of the petty object of your wretched and selfish desires.
I have been accused of being a 'black magician.' No more foolish statement was ever made about me. I dispise the thing to such an extent that I can hardly believe in the existence of people so debased and idiotic as to practice it.
—Aleister Crowley (from An A to Z of the Occult - Simon Cox)
He believed in the Law of Thelma, a complex philosophy of free will, which many confused with Black Magic. He also believed he had a Guardian Angel named, Aiwass.
I think what Crowley was trying to tell us was; that we each have free will to live out our destinies and exercise our free will as we see fit, but only if no one got hurt and everyone participating is in agreement but along with this so called freedom we have a responsibility and a need to be self-disciplined.
To his credits, in 1907 he formed his own occult society, the Argentinian Astrum, The Order of the Silver Star and wrote many prized books and articles on the occult. He was a philosopher.
To his discredits, he found the secret to eternal youth, an elixir of life, through his Alchemy endeavours. As imagined, nothing became of it. He was gullible.
Today, most of Crowley's paraphernalia is owed by Jimmy Page, guitarist for Led Zeppelin, who also owned and lived in Boleskine House for a short time, Crowley's house.
A known heroin addicted and homosexual, the hedonistic Crowley died in a rooming house at the age of 72 in 1947, broke, suffering from asthma and bronchitis due to his heavy smoking and drinking and late night partying. His doctor died within 24 hours of his death. Many believe that Crowley put a curse on the doctor for letting him become addicted to drugs. But that will never or can be proven.
There are no 'standards of right'. Ethics is balderdash. Each Star must go on its own orbit. To hell with 'moral principle' there is no such thing. —Aleister Crowley
He was a man of his word, holding out to the end with his beliefs. His poem 'Hymn to Pan' was read at the closing of his funeral.
Hymn to Pan
I am Pan! Io Pan! Io Pan!
I am they mate, I am they man.
Goat of they flock, I am gold, I am god,
Flesh to they bone, flower to they rod.
With hoofs of steel I race on the rocks
Through solstice stubborn to equinox.
And I rave, and I rape and I rip and I rend
Everlasting, world without end.
Mannikin, maiden, maenad, man,
In the might of Pan.
Io Pan! Io Pan! Pan! Io Pan!