Crowley , Where to Start?

Hey all , I’m wondering if anyone can advise me on this. I’ve always been interested in Aleister Crowley. I knew of him long before I actually started studying the occult. As I got into it his name came up more & more. However , I’ve always shied away from his works because I just found them daunting. I mean it’s not the language that intimidates me . I’ve heard segments of his works dictated in you tube videos & for the most part he writes quite plainly…
It’s the level of study they require & the presupposed experience & competence expected by him of the reader.I think it was his wife who wrote in the notes of ’ Magic in Theory & Practice ’ that " …he never considered that there were those who had never practiced magic before but only that there were those who were practicing it badly " :smiley:
So I’ve avoided it . Also he hides a lot of information ( in chapter numbers & headings for example ) with Kabbalah which I’ve always avoided like the plague because it really didn’t interest me & I didn’t see the value of it but it’s like a thorn in my side. I’m constantly being pointed to him by writers I respect. So not only do I find where to start with his works hard to know , that they’re considered occult masterpieces , seriously complicated & most people I know of who point to him as a great teacher also admit that his works are really hard to figure out & that they couldn’t make head nor tale of them until they had a teacher go through them. Also the Kabbalah really turned me off.
Lately I’ve started watching loads of videos by James Neal Fox. He did a show called ’ The Lucifer Series ’ & also VLOGS discussing works by Crowley , G. I. Gurdjeff . Michael W. Ford etc. It’s great content as he really knows his stuff . He’s clearly extremely intelligent as well as well read on the occult & budhist / Hindu techniques of attaining higher conciousness. He even makes Kabbalah seem interesting :slight_smile:
He talks about how reading books like Crowleys older works & G.I. Gurdjeffs ’ Beelzebubs Tales to his Grandson ’ & figuring out the hidden meanings all through Gurdjeffs works & applying Kabbalah to Crowleys is extremely powerful. He says though , that its pointless just reading the meaning from books , by other authors , that have done the work for you. To get the benefit of it you have to do the work. To puzzle over it , to meditate on the words / numbers until the solution starts to form in your mind . it’s supposedly well worth it as he says while your doing the work "…your brain is slowly & gently being rewired."
I really feel like I’m missing out on a huge piece of the puzzle but getting into it is as daunting as having to learn to read & write all over again.Does anyone here study Crowley? What book(s) should one start with & what’s a good companion book(s) to go along with his work? I know there are books out there that explain his works without getting into the Kabbalah side of things ( I want to explore those hidden meanings on my own as much as possible to get the most benefit ). Then the other big question is where does one start with Kabbalah. Does anyone know what the closest ’ Kabbalah for dummies ’ book available is ? Any advice would be great , thanks :slight_smile:

1 Like
  I'm very interested in Crowleys techniques of consciousness alteration as well as magickal practice. Robert Anton Wilson (personal hero of mine ) praises Crowleys techniques in this area a lot. The one technique that sticks out in my mind is his method whereby you train yourself to stop using the word  ' I '. You carry a pin in your pocket & so whenever you catch yourself using ' I ' in a sentence you stab your leg with the pin. Apparently eventually this has a serious effect on your thinking & as a result your consciousness. I think there are other ' forbidden ' words but I forget the details.However , I do know if Robert Anton Wilson said it's very effective then I'm sure it is.
  So I'm not sure if he has one book in particular that covers these kind of practical techniques or if these kinds of exercises are featured in all his works. Anyone know ?

Just curious, but why the aversion to Kabbalah? It’s an extremely potent tool for understanding, well,… everything. If you look at a who’s who of 20th century magickians (Crowley, Regardie, Fortune, Bardon, etc.), they were all well versed in Kabbalah. It does take study, and some of the stuff takes a long time to assimilate. I still, years after, have “ah ha!” moments, where some aspect of the Kabbalah suddenly becomes crystal clear.

It’s been some years since I’ve read any books about the Kabbalah, but the most useful one for me was this one:

This one is considered one of the must reads, but honestly, Knights book was more helpful to me:

As far as Crowley is concerned, can’t help you much. My interest in him has always been purely academic.

For one , it always seemed to lean to heavy on the side of academia and not enough actual magic. Initially it seemed to be brought about to hide forbidden teachings & to introduce esoteric teachings to orthodox Jews who otherwise wouldn’t have accepted them. So I felt it didn’t really apply to me . It was so inherently Jewish ( nothing wrong with that ) that I didn’t feel it related to me, so I wanted to find teachings in something more familiar to me.
Everywhere I looked though I came across it or references to it so , as I said , I felt like I was missing a huge piece of the puzzle. Also , it seemed fairly daunting, such a huge area of study to try & tackle on my own & unlike other areas of the occult ( eg. evocationI / invocation, astral projection , divination ) I doubted I would be able to maintain my interest in & so in turn my focus on it . I didn’t like the idea of getting so bogged down in the academic side of the occult & as a result miss out on the actual practice of magic as I’d seen so many experts in Kabbalah who seemed to be purely ’ armchair occultists’.
Thanks for the book titles , much appreciated :slight_smile:

Liber III vel Jugorum is what you’re looking for. Link has some commentary that should help you along, if it’s something you want to do.

If you want a chunk of Crowley to read to get your bearings, Liber ABA has all of the essentials, vel Jugorum as well as Magick in Theory and Practice, which is the work of his that magicians find useful, even if they discard everything else he’s ever written.

Magick Without Tears and The Law is for All were written later in his life, when his style was much more accessible. The former covers his system, and the latter the philosophy behind Thelema. They can be hard to get your hands on, since they’ve been out of print forever, but I’d recommend them above anything else.

If you want something more modern, look at Lon Milo Duquette. The Magick of Aleister Crowley is supposed to be superb. My OTO friends love it, and Lon’s style is the most approachable of any occult writer I’ve read. There’s also the Living Thelema Podcast and/or book of the same name by David Shoemaker, which is targeted at beginning Thelemites.

Finally, if you just want quick answers to something, Thelemapedia’s good for a brief overview of anything you run across. And here is a list of what texts the A.’.A.’. says is necessary for any aspirant to know. 777 is particularly useful for looking up correspondences.

The hardest part about getting into Crowley is figuring out where to find the text he’s referencing. That’s what always did me in, when I got started. Google is your friend here. It’s going to be hard to avoid Qabbalah completely… Probably even impossible… If you really want to study Crowley’s system, but if you have a basic grasp of what Qabbalah is, you should be fine.

I’ve read The Work of the Kabbalist by Zev bin Shimon Halevi a couple of times and I thought it was a pretty good book on the topic. He’s a real Jewish cabbalist and has written numerous books on it and teaches it around the world.

I’ve also heard Dion Fortune’s book that Chef mentioned is one of the best but I haven’t read it. While the Kabbalah is a great system I’m bored with it and not interested in working with it at this time. If I read another magick book that gives me a section or chapter of an “introduction to the Kabbalah” I’m going to hurl it across the room. :smiley:

Yeah Crowley can be tough for novices. I remember thumbing through some of his books when I was first starting out and I had no idea what he was talking about. I may as well have been reading a foreign language. So, I started with reading biographies about him and beginner’s texts like Modern Magick by Donald Michael Kraig in my formative “Lewellyn” years. I can still recommend that book highly for people completely new to it all as he gives basic introductions to Crowley and Kabbalah as well as various other things and techniques and he has a very personable style.

that’s really helpful man , thanks. I’ll def look into the books you’ve recommended. I think the first one you mentioned that details his conscious altering techniques is where I’ll start. That’s the kind of thing that interests me most at the moment.