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In Comics:

Aleister Crowley is known as Black Sabbat in Requiem: Chevalier Vampire.

Origin

Edward Alexander Crowley was born in 1875, the son of an engineer and brewery heir. From a young age he didn't get along with his mother, and she referred to him as "the Beast", a name that he would use later in life. In his youth the family was devoutly Christian, especially his father, who read Bible passages to his wife and young son every day. When Crowley was 11-years-old his father died of cancer, and Crowley inherited his wealth. He was first educated at Ebor School in Cambridge, but was expelled for attempting to corrupt another boy (a claim that he flatly denied). He then attended Malvern School and Tonbridge School, both of which he hated, followed by Eastbourne College. He had grown increasingly opposed to Christianity and the Christian morals with which he had been raised, vocally challenging religious teachers and embracing discouraged practices, especially sex with prostitutes, from one of whom he contracted gonorrhea.

History

He matriculated in 1895 to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he began studying philosophy but soon switched to English literature. He continued to distance himself from Christianity, both the strict sect in which he had been raised and the more moderate, mainstream version he encountered in university. Also at this time he decided to change his name to Aleister. He also began to cultivate a number of pastimes, including mountaineering, poetry and chess. He also continued in his sexual exploits, carrying on with prostitutes and casual female flings, while also becoming involved in homosexuality. In 1896 he experienced his first mystical moment, later alleged to be coincident with his first homosexual experience. He began to study the occult as well as mysticism, and later alchemy, mysticism and magic. He left university in 1897 without receiving a degree. The next year he moved to Zurich, Switzerland, where he became friends with chemist and fellow alchemy enthusiast Julian L. Baker. When they returned to England, Baker introduced him to George Cecil Jones, one of the members of the occultist Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Crowley joined the organization in November of 1898 and took the name "Frater Perdurabo" which means "I shall endure to the end". In his home he prepared two rooms, one in which to practice White magic, and the second for Black magic. During this time he also invited another member of the Golden Dawn, Alan Bennett, to live with him and tutor him in magic and the ritual use of drugs. In 1899 he acquired a house on Loch Ness in Scotland, called Boleskin House, and entered into his role as a Scottish laird, often taking to wearing traditional highland dress. In 1900 his friend Bennett left for Sri Lanka. In 1900 the Golden Dawn experienced a schism due to the actions of MacGregor Mathers, the leader at the time, and in part because Mathers attempted to force Crowley through to higher orders of the group. Crowley remained loyal to Mathers and attempted to quash the rebellion, but failed. He had poor relations with several other well-known members of the order, including William Butler Yeats.

In 1900 he travelled to Mexico and undertook a number of mountaineering expeditions with his friend Oscar Eckenstein. His friend also introduced him to raja yoga. During this time he also discovered the word "Abrahadabra" which would later become an element of his religion. He left Mexico and toured the world, travelling to San Francisco and Hawaii in the United States, as well as Japan, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka he reunited with Bennett, and continued in his study of yoga, later claiming to have reached the spiritual state of dhyana. Bennett decided to dedicate himself to Therevada Buddhism as a monk, and to this end moved to Burma, while Crowley travelled to India to learn about Hinduism. He was soon joined by several Europeans, including Eckenstein, who together decided to climb K2. During the climb Crowley contracted Influenza and malaria, as well as suffering from snow blindness. The expedition turned back at 20,000 feet. He returned to Europe, and briefly visited Mathers in Paris, though the two found they no longer got on and parted as enemies. In 1903 he married Rose Edith Kelly, in a marriage that began as a marriage of convenience to save her from an arranged marriage but ended in actual love. In 1904 he and his pregnant wife went to Egypt. He claimed that Rose spontaneously entered a trance-like state, informing him repeatedly that "they" were waiting for him. After a fruitless appeal to Thoth, lord of the Tarot, he claimed that Rose revealed to him that "they" were the god Horus and his messenger. Rose then led him to a Cairo museum, where she directed him the the Stele of Ankh-ef-en-Khonsu. In an interesting coincidence, the exhibit number of the Stele was 666, the number of the Beast in Christianity. Crowley took this as a sign, and began to invoke Horus.

On April 8th he heard a disembodied voice, which he claimed identified itself as Aiwass, a messenger of Horus, who Aiwass called "Hoor-Paar-Kraat". Crowley recorded all of the things Aiwass told him, and compiled it over the next three days into the Liber AL vel Legis or The Book of Law. This book identified Crowley as the prophet for the new Aeon. The central law described in the book was "Do what thou wilt", and followers were encouraged to follow their "True Will". At the time Crowley claimed to be unsure what to do with his new text, and sent it to several other occultists before setting it aside. Soon after he returned to Boleskine, and in 1905 his wife gave birth to their daughter Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith. He also founded a publishing company, which he named the Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth and through which he released various volumes of poetry. His poetry received good reviews but was not particularly popular, so he offered a hundred pound reward to anyone who could write the best essay on his works. The winning essay hailed him as perhaps the greatest poet of the era. Crowley also organized a mountaineering expedition to Kangchenjunga in the Himalayas. During the climb he sparred continually with the other members of the expedition, and partway through the climb they rebelled against his leadership and attempted to return down the mountain late in the day. Crowley's warnings that they wouldn't survive the trip down was partly borne out as several people died in an accident on the way down.

In 1906 he returned to India to be with his family, but left soon afterwards because he was wanted for shooting a man who had attempted to mug him. He moved the family to China, where he accidentally fell down a forty foot cliff. He was totally unscathed by the accident, and took this as a sign that he was intended for some prophetic purpose. He believed that he was now at the rank of Exempt Adept in the Golden Dawn, and began studying the Goetia. He performed a daily invocation in the hopes of contacting his Holy Guardian Angel. He continued travelling through China, but in 1906 the family decided to return to England, he via America and his wife and daughter via India. He went to Shanghai briefly to visit a friend, and while there he again invoked Aiwass who ordered him to return to Egypt for further revelations. Crowley refused, however, and stopped briefly in Kobe, Japan, where he had a vision that he had advanced to the Third Order of the Golden Dawn. He arrived in England in June of 1906, only to learn that his daughter had died of typhoid and his wife had become an alcoholic. He was heartbroken, and his health began to suffer, as did his relationship with his wife, as he took up a sexual relationship with an actress, Vera "Lola" Stepp. His second daughter, Lola Zaza, was born soon after. By this point Crowley believed he was at the highest level of spiritual adeptship and began to consider forming his own spiritual order. On September 22nd 1907 he and his friend Jones performed a ritual for which he composed a special liturgy, at the time referred to as the Liber 671, and later as the Liber Pyramidos, which they performed again with some alterations several days later. He called it the pinnacle of his spiritual career. He felt that he had finally reached a conversational stage with his Holy Guardian Angel, Aiwass, and composed another book, Liber VII, as dictated by this being through a kind of automatic writing. He received another text, Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente, over the following few days. Liber VII and Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente represent the high water mark of Crowley's mystical utterance for the rest of his life and have never been equalled or surpassed.

He and his friends Jones and JFC Fuller determined to form a new magical order, called A∴A∴, Argentum Astrum, or Silver Star. After founding the order he composed several more texts. During this time he had separated from his wife because of her alcoholism and had an affair with an older woman. He allowed her to divorce him for infidelity so that the divorce wouldn't reflect badly on her, and the pair remained friendly after the divorce. He began publishing a biannual journal, The Equinox, in the hopes of drawing in new followers. His order soon attracted many prominent occultists. Also at this time he began an affair with Leila Waddell. 1910 saw his first performance of the Rites of Eleusis, in a dramatic performance that brought the order into the public view. In 1912 a member of the Ordo Templi Orientis allegedly accused Crowley of printing OTO secrets in his book, The Book of Lies. This eventually led to Crowley becoming a member of the Xth Degree of the OTO, and Grand Master of the English-speaking section, referred to as the Mysteria Mystica Maxima. As a leader of the OTO he introduced homosexual sex magick, and established a higher degree of OTO, the Eleventh Degree. In 1913 he produced a follies review in which his mistress Waddell starred. In July the show travelled to Moscow, where Crowley met Anny Ringler, with whom he had a sado-masochistic affair. After their encounters he would write poetry, many of which advocated sex as a form of magical ritual. He returned to London in 1913 and published the final issue of volume one of The Equinox. At the beginning of 1914 he performed 24 rituals over a period of seven weeks which he recorded in another holy book, Opus Lutetianum. He travelled to the US and began to focus on determining how elements of his life were related to God. During this time he meditated and claimed the title of Magus. Also during this time he continued to have short-lived affairs with a number of women. He attempted to get one of his mistresses, Jeanne Robert Foster, pregnant with his first male child, and to this end performed a number of magical rituals which ultimately failed. In June of 1916 he began magical experimentation again, and crucified a frog that he later described as his willing familiar. Slightly over a month later he took ether and had a vision of the universe. He travelled to the Hudson River, where he painted "Do what thou wilt" on two cliff faces. Curious visitors gave him gifts, and he began to experience what he described as past life regression. He began a sexual relationship with Leah Hirsig at this point

It has been alleged that, during the First World War, Crowley may have acted as a spy for the British government against the Germans, and may have been involved with the government even before that point. It is unknown if he was actually an agent or not, but some evidence seems to suggest it was so. In either case, in 1920 he and Hirsig settled in Palermo along with their newborn baby daughter, Anne Leah. Crowley and Hirsig established the Abbey of Thelema there in April of 1920. During their time there the abbey acted as an idealist utopian commune in which everyone could do as they willed, and also a college in which they could learn magic. Hirsig was already pregnant again, as was another of Crowley's followers, Shumway. Anne Leah died, and Hirsig miscarried soon after. Shumway gave birth to a daughter, Astarte Lulu Panthea. Hirsig accused Shumway of performing Black magic that caused the miscarriage. Crowley expelled Shumway from the abbey soon after reading her magical diary, but she was soon recalled to take care of her daughter. In April of 1923 Crowley and his followers were expelled from Italy by the fascist government of Benito Mussolini.

In 1924 he visited George Gurdjieff at the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man. In 1929 he married again, this time to Maria de Miramar. The pair separated a year later but never formally divorced. In September of 1930 he met the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa in Lisbon. With Pessoa's help he faked his own death at a rock formation called the Boca do Inferno. He finally resurfaced three weeks later in Berlin after enjoying the newspaper reports of his death. In 1932 Nina Hamnett published a book called Laughing Torso in which she called Crowley a black magician. He lost the case, and in 1934 was declared bankrupt. Shortly after the trial a woman named Patricia MacAlpine offered to bear him a child, who was named Aleister Ataturk. The pair rarely saw each other after the child's birth. In 1944 he published The Book of Thoth, which he viewed as his crowning artistic achievement.

Aleister Crowley died on December 1st, 1947, probably of a respiratory infection. He was 72-years-old.

Crowley's Signature

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