Having seen some Crowley paintings in person, I must say that digital reproductions don’t do them justice. While Crowley was not primarily a visual artist, they have a presence that many more technically sophisticated works lack. These photos, however, are high enough resolution to allow you to see the texture of his brushwork and paint application in some of his works.
Crowley’s art is something of an acquired taste. At first, I found his use of color jarring. Now I find it evocative and magical.
For me, The Moon (1918) is an old favorite (http://www.lashtal.com/images/metz.jpg), which I was fortunate enough to see when some of his paintings toured Los Angeles, so I’m excited to see that he painted another one in 1921. Honestly, I can’t decide which I prefer. I like them both too much. Idiots on a Mountain, Landscape with Coral and Jade Pagodas, and Sunset on the Sicilian Coast (1920), are entirely new delights.
It’s a real shame that many of these wonderful and magical artifacts might disappear into a private collection, never to see the light of day again. I hope whomever purchases these important pieces of Thelemic and occult history will allow them to circulate through galleries and museums at some point in the future.
Some members of the Thelemic and occult community are fast becoming aware of a small privately issued book called Priest/ess, written by my dear friend Michael Effertz, which advocates that the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica or “EGC” – the religious branch of the OTO, allow public “queer” performances of the Gnostic Mass.
“I was often reduced to such expedients when wandering in strange lands, camping on glaciers, and so on. I fixed it workably well. In Mexico, D.F. for instance, I took my bedroom itself for the Circle, my night-table for the Altar, my candle for the Lamp; and I made the Weapons compact. I had a Wand eight inches long, all precious stones and enamel, to represent the Tree of Life; within, an iron tube containing quicksilver—very correct, lordly, and damsilly. What a club! Also, bought, a silver-gilt Cup; for Air and Earth I made one sachet of rose-petals in yellow silk, and another in green silk packed with salt. In the wilds it was easy, agreeable and most efficacious to make a Circle, and build an altar, of stones; my Alpine Lantern served admirably for the Lamp. It did double duty when required: e.g. in partaking of the Sacrament of the Four Elements, it served for Fire. But your conditions are not so restricted as this.”
“Now, as many are fully occupied with their affairs, let it be known that this method is adaptable to the necessities of all. And We bear witness that this which followeth is the Crux and Quintessence of the whole Method. First, if he have no Image, let him take anything soever, and consecrate it as an Image of his God. Likewise with his robes and instruments, his suffumigations and libations: for his Robe hath he not a nightdress; for his instrument a walking stick; for his suffumigation a burning match; for his libation a glass of water? But let him consecrate each thing that he useth to the service of that particular Deity, and not profane the same to any other use.”
There is a moment in every evocation where I find myself intensely present. Rather than entering into a fogged and hypnotized state, as the ignorant imagine must occur, I attain a sudden electric clarity. It is as if my normal waking life is the one wrapped in mist and fog. Here, in a circle marked out with pin-points of light, and wreathed in fumes of incense, my senses clear like a cloudless sky.
I am opposed, as a matter of principle, to the “dumbing down” instinct. This impulse, found throughout modern life, seeks to reduce every concept and experience to a commodity that can be pleasantly consumed by the lowest common denominator. No-where do I find this trend more noxious than in the realm of occultism. My recommendation is always to go to the source as soon as possible. Liber AL vel Legis, The Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on Liber AL vel Legis, Magick without Tears and Book 4 should clear up 75% of the problems a new student of Thelema encounters. However, I realize that three of these books are out of print, and all of them assume the reader possesses a fairly high degree of cultural capital. Many of the people approaching Thelema today will simply not have immediate access to these books, or be able to understanding them.
Why practice magick today? Isn’t this method of coming to know, and interact with the world, outdated? Isn’t it really just applied psychology? Can’t we accomplish the same things that magick promises through less transgressive, weird, and socially awkward methods?
Every intentional act is a Magical Act.
– A. Crowley, Magick without Tears (MWT), Chapter 1
Tonight, two friends and I are leaving the City of Angels for the “Valley of the Sun” .
There is something special about packing a bag and departing from the known, for however short a time period, that raises the energetic level of our lived experience. It is something like dance: a motion that carries meaning.
There is a highly popular school of “occultists” which is 99 % an escape-mechanism. The fear of death is one of the bogeys; but far deeper is the root-fear—fear of being alone, of being oneself, of life itself. With this there goes the sense of guilt. The Book of the Law cuts directly at the root of all this calamitous, this infamous tissue of falsehood.
What is the meaning of Initiation? It is the Path to the realisation of your Self as the sole, the supreme, the absolute of all Truth, Beauty, Purity, Perfection! What is the artistic sense in you? What but the One Channel always open to you through which this Light flows freely to enkindle you (and the world through you) with flowers of inexhaustible fervour and flame?