Aleister Crowley last week described his initiation into a Secret Order, how he was bound and blindfolded, made to repeat a formidable oath before black-hooded officers, and became “a new being born into a new world.”
After my initiation I seemed to myself like a savage who happens to wander into a factory of high explosives. I had to learn the laws of life all over again from the beginning.
I always think of Mr Wells’ First Men in the Moon. How to act when the fundamental conditions of life are changed? The danger of making fatal mistakes is always present.
A necessary part of the practice of magic is the invocation of Divine and angelic beings and the evocation of blind forces, some of which are considered “evil” by the vulgar.
Of course there are forces which are definitely malicious. It is never necessary for a magician to deal with them, except as a bacteriologist studies disease germs, to find out their nature and subdue them.
By 1899 I had gone through seven stages of initiation. These constituted me an Adept, but accidents were still happening to me.
Temple in a London Flat
I constructed a private temple in a flat in Chancery Lane. It was a hall of mirrors, the function of which was to concentrate the invoked forces. It contained an altar of acacia topped with gold and certain secret symbols and regalia of the Order.
One night, after a ceremony in which a well-known analytical chemist was my leader, I locked the door and went out with him to a meal.
When we returned the door was wide open, though the lock had not been forced, and the whole contents of the temple had been thrown about and lay in the wildest confusion.
Then the fun began. We saw—and my teacher was able to identify—hundreds of shapes, weird “half-formed faces” which were thronging the room, marching in fantastic dance about its confines.
These were definitely malicious forces, demons, which one had to study and conquer.
Later, when I was transferring my apparatus to my house in Scotland, I employed two workmen to remove the mirrors. As they were working they were suddenly overcome, knocked out by unseen assailants. It took several hours to revive them.
People passing the doorway suddenly fell down in fits. That flat remained without a tenant for years after I had left it. All this was because I had not enough experience to control the forces.
It was at the direction of the head of the Order that I then went to Scotland, to my manor house of Boleskine, which is two or three miles from the Falls of Foyers.
My subsidiary object—the principal aim is too sacred to discuss—put into simple language was to gain control over the “four great princes” of the evil of the world.
According to the rules of magic, I built a terrace with a northern aspect and carted river sand to it.
I worked in the breakfast-room at making the talismans which were necessary to my purpose. The sun was streaming into the room, but in vain; there was a darkness which could be felt. The demons, evil forces, had congregated round me so thickly that they were shutting off the light. It was a comforting situation. There could be no more doubt of the efficiency of the operation.
But I went on with my work, even though I had to light a lamp—with the sun shining brightly outside.
The demons collected, also, in the lodge which I had built on the terrace. They were still vague shapes, half-seen faces. I got used to them.
My Dangerous Path to Power
They had curious effects on the neighbourhood. Part of the main road from Inverness to Fort Augustus ran through my estate. Soon superstitions about the road made the natives avoid it. People refused to use it after nightfall.
Even the tough, hard-drinking workmen from Glasgow who were employed at Foyers would go a long way round to avoid that uncanny road.
The forces had other and worse effects. An employee (who had not touched alcohol for twenty years) suddenly got drunk and tried to murder his wife and children. This was one of many similar cases.
One summer more than half my pack of bloodhounds died. My servants were always getting ill.
One of the men I employed to lay down putting greens went insane and tried to murder my wife.
I had realized, by this time, that my path to power was to be immensely difficult and fraught with danger. But I did not look back.
I began my pilgrimage to far-distant countries. Mexico was the first. I was sent there by the head of the Order to consecrate a priest to serve the Lamp of the Invisible Light.
In Mexico, too, I made my first experiments in acquiring invisibility. By invoking the God of Silence, Harpocrates, by the proper ritual in front of a mirror, I gradually got to the stage where my reflection began to flicker like the images of one of the old-fashioned cinemas.
It never disappeared completely. In fact, that experiment showed me that I was on the wrong track. Success lay not in an optical disappearance, but in the power of fascination. “Having eyes, they see not.”
However that may be, I was able to walk out in a scarlet-and-gold robe with a jeweled crown on my head without attracting any attention. They could not see me.
This was the beginning of an art which stood me in good stead in Calcutta years later. While I was walking through the native quarter at night I was set upon by robbers.
When I saw a knife flash I thought it was beyond a joke; pinioned though I was, I managed to fire my revolver. Hundreds of natives aroused by the report rushed out to seek me, but I was able to walk unperceived through the midst of them, and make my escape.
Sacrifice in Sacred City
My travels took me to Ceylon, where I devoted myself to Yoga.
I took a bungalow at Kandy and was steered through the beginnings of the art. Yoga may be taught in eight words. “Sit still! Stop thinking! Shut up! Get out!” It is the learning that is difficult.
My success with Yoga was so great that it became dangerous. For my own good I left it alone for two years, departing from Ceylon and going to India.
A curious thing happened on one occasion. At Madura I went into a temple and sacrificed a goat. Soon after I completely cut off my trail by a sea voyage—a great storm was raging, and I was the only person to board the ship.
Some time afterwards I returned to India and visited some friends, who knew nothing about my activities in Calcutta.
They told me that their servants were excited about a queer tale that I had sacrificed a goat at Madura, the most sacred city of South India.
Being Takes Human Form
How had the natives obtained that information? They had done it by “native telegraph.”
I then went to Egypt, and—to my intense surprise—was summoned by the secret chiefs of the Order. I was commanded to return to England, there to reconstruct the system of organisation, as the outer form of the Order had broken up through the fall of its chief ambassador to the world “without the Veil,” and to put the secrets in writing.
I accordingly condensed and published knowledge in a periodical called The Equinox. Headquarters at this time was a studio in Victoria Street. There in our spare time we began to celebrate the rites of Eleusis.
Some of these rites were often attended with strange results. On several occasions we saw and felt a stranger among us, but when the lights were turned higher there was no one there.
Our ceremonies had caused a being to take human form and be seen among us.
The success of these private rituals induced me to take the Caxton Hall for seven performances, which were open to the public. Bottomley attacked the rituals as obscene and blasphemous. He was merely reflecting in print the depravity of his own mind.
Invoking the Spirit of Mars
A girl played the violin during the rites. She was a good violinist, but under the influence of the ceremonies, she was more; she played sublimely, like a supreme virtuoso, in the magical invocations directed upon her.
During one ceremony in July 1909, in the Victoria Street studio, we invoked Bartzabel, the spirit of Mars.
One of those present was a man of importance in the Admiralty, a commander whose name is too well known to mention. He asked the spirit, which had been invoked in a specially purified and consecrated man, if “nation would ever rise against nation.”
Bartzabel answered that it would. Questioned further, the spirit said that war would break out within five years, and that the nations which would be smashed would be Turkey and Germany.
Prophecy of Great War
Within a fortnight of the end of those five years the Great War broke out.
The naval man was an Adept of the Order, and he played a big part in the struggle. Whenever the affairs of the world reach a critical stage the Adepts always have someone behind the scenes.
Rudolph Steiner, the man who was responsible for the defeat of Germany, was Grand Master of the O.T.O. in Austria, a semi-masonic order of which I was the Grand Master in England.
Steiner broke away from the Order, because he was terrified at one of the ordeals he had to go through. He was thus cut off from the true magic, but he became secret advisor to Von Moltke.
Steiner’s direction resulted in Von Moltke’s failing to take Paris when it was within his grasp, and that mistake cost Germany the whole war.
Steiner had proved his inability to become a great magician and he was deceived by treacherous powers into defeating his country.
Next week I shall expose the abominations of Black Magic and show how absurd are the allegations which connect my name with those practices.