One of the twentieth centurys most iconic figures was the magician and writer Aleister Crowley .He was a major figure in several esoteric organizations such as the Golden Dawn and Ordo Templi Orientis and is best known for his work The Book of Law . During his lifetime , he was infamous for his behaviour and was called " The Great Beast " and " The Wickedest Man in the World " .He was accused of Black Magic and paedophilia . Whilst none of this was ever proved conclusively , he lost a libel case when he tried to defend himself against charges of Black Magic , it would appear that he was involved in very strange magical practices mainly based on sex . As with all great egotists it is difficult to distinguish between the truth and fact , but he appears to have been an unlikeable man relying on the strength of his character rather than any other redeeming features . A New Forest witch in a coven in the New Forest in Hampshire described him as " a dirty minded , evilly disposed and vicious little monster ". With regard to children he wrote " It would be unwise to condemn as irrational the practice of devouring the heart and liver of an adversary while yet warm . For the highest spiritual working one must choose that victim which contains the greatest and and purest force ; a male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence is the most satisfactory " and " All children shall be accustomed from infancy to witness every type of sexual act , lest they be misdirected . " Not nice .
He died in 1947 in Hastings broke and addicted to heroin . But his infamy lived on and his story continued to fascinate , especially in popular culture . On the Beatles famous album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart Band he was included on the album cover and it has been claimed that the lyrics " It was twenty years ago today when Sgt Pepper taught the band to play " were written on the twentieth anniversary of his death and that Sgt Pepper was a direct reference to Aleister Crowley . Jimmy Page the lead guitarist of Led Zeppelin is notoriously interested in the occult and once owned a house , Boleskine House , on the shores of Loch Ness , which Aleister Crowley had been the owner of some years before. David Bowie ,in the song Quicksand on the Hunky Dory album wrote " I'm closer to the Golden Dawn immersed in Crowley's uniform of imagery . " Ozzy Osbourne , Iron Maiden and Marilyn Manson have also referenced him in their songs .
It is not only popular culture where Crowley's influence can be seen . L Ron Hubbard ,the founder of Scientology has been linked with Jack Parsons , a senior rocket science engineer with Nasa at the end of the 2nd World War . Jack Parsons was the leader of the Ordo Templi Orientis in Los Angeles and it is claimed that he and L Ron Hubbard attempted to produce a Moonchild , with the aid of a willing sperm recipient . No record exists whether this was successful or not . It is recorded that Jack Parsons was in correspondence with Crowley and L Ron Hubbard was mentioned in dispatches and Hubbard described Crowley as his ' good friend '. Scientology has a big following in Hollywood and members include Tom Cruise , John Travolta , Will Smith and Lisa Marie Presley , Elvis Presley's daughter, amongst many others . Charles Manson also received Scientology training and one can feel Crowley's effect in Manson and his cronies in their descent into collective madness .
But what is the reason for Aleister Crowley's long lasting renown.From his famous book , The Book of Law it is the phrase ' Do what wilt shall be the whole of the Law . ' which has been the main influence on western society and came into full bloom in the 1960 s with 'free love ' and ' let it all hang out ' , and ended with the Manson family bloodbaths. With hindsight it was probably inevitable that the sixties would end in a rush of acid and blood.The concept of free will is very powerful as we have the subconcious belief that we are trapped and are somehow imprisoned . We feel trapped in our relationships and jobs and being told that we can do what we want is a potent belief to an imprisoned soul . I actually believe that we should be allowed to do as we wish and find anarchy in its purest sense an appealing concept and I find our increasingly controlled society very difficult to deal with .
The difficulty I have with Crowley's view is that I am not sure that our wishes are really our true desires . The majority of our desires some from the subconcious . Anybody who has had an addiction problem will recognize this – even though you really want to stop smoking , drinking , reduce eating or taking heroin there is something within , which urges you to continue and this is mainly mental/emotional rather than physical . Our subconcious tells us that we are deprived so we pursue a mainly material life filling our homes with more and more , even though we are never fully satisfied .Our survival instinct commands us to to take jobs that we dislike ,so we can maintain our standard of living and our sex drive compels us to seek out partners , who a lot of the time are completely unsuitable apart from being sexually compatible . And then we turn round and say we are just exercising our free will . Who's fooling who here ? We are controlled by our impulses but what if these urgings are false beliefs ? What are our real desires ? I think the only way is to question our thoughts and emotions when confronted by choices and find out what we truly want . Freedom and Free will are vital to the way we live our lives , but sometimes we confuse slavery with freedom . I do agree with Crowleys's ' Do what thou wilt ' but the real question ' Is this what I really wilt ? ' remains.