To those who crossed his path Crowley was unforgettable. The Beatles included him on the people we like cover of Sergeant Pepper s not once but twice—the second photo was reportedly dropped as Crowley too closely resembled Paul McCartney. Aleister critical crowley essay in star upon west works. He transformed his rented villa by painting erotic wall murals after the example of Paul Gauguin—one of Crowley s heroes, whom he made a saint in his Gnostic Catholic Church. He has been compared to Sir Richard Burton, and Crowley is probably best known today as the author of the twentieth century s most influential textbooks on occultism, and as the first Englishman to found a religion—Thelema—which is today a recognized faith around the world. Students practiced Crowley s religious philosophy of Thelema (the Greek word for will ). The London Sunday Times named him one of their 6555 makers of the Twentieth Century.
He was a lyric and dramatic poet, with several dozen books to his credit, including a collaboration with Auguste Rodin. This book is the founding text of his religion of Thelema, and was dictated to Crowley in Egypt in 6959 by what he described as a praeterhuman intelligence. This was his Abbey of Thelema, an experiment in spiritual monasticism inspired in part by Rabelais.
He figures in innumerable memoirs, and became the basis for fictional characters ranging from Somerset Maugham s The Magician to the villain in Ian Fleming s Casino Royale. He was educated at Malvern and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he changed his name to Aleister. Crowley summarized this as Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law, with its corollary Love is the law, love under will —both quotations from The Book of the Law.
He is anthologized in The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. Crowley was the enfant terrible of the Edwardian avant-garde of London and Paris. Edward Alexander Crowley was born in Leamington Spa in 6875.
Witty and flamboyant, and an early champion of the aesthetic and inspirational virtues of drugs, sex, music and dance, he gravitated to the cultural exile communities: New York during WWI, the Lost Generation of Paris in the 6975s, and the decadent Berlin of Christopher Isherwood s Mr. Norris in the 6985s. Crowley was natural polymath, and made a name for himself as a poet, novelist, journalist, mountaineer, explorer, chess player, graphic designer, drug experimenter, prankster, lover of women, beloved of men, yogi, magician, prophet, early freedom fighter, human rights activist, philosopher, and artist. In 6969 Crowley left New York for Cefalu, Sicily, where he began to paint landscapes.