Aleister Crowley born 12 October 1875 (d. 1947)
Aleister Crowley, born Edward Alexander Crowley (the first syllable is pronounced like the bird) was an English occultist, prolific writer, mystic, hedonist, aficionado of chess and mountain climbing, and sexual revolutionary.
His interests and accomplishments were wide-ranging — he was a chess master, mountain climber, poet, painter, astrologer, drug experimenter, and social critic. He is perhaps best known today for his occult writings, especially The Book of the Law, the central sacred text of Thelema. Crowley was also an influential member in several occult organizations, including the Golden Dawn, the A∴A∴, and Ordo Templi Orientis.
Crowley gained much notoriety during his lifetime, and was famously dubbed 'The Wickedest Man In the World'.
His father, Edward Crowley, once maintained a lucrative family brewery business and was retired when Aleister Crowley was born. Both of his parents were Darbyites, members of the most extreme wing of the Protestant sect known as the Exclusive Brethren.
He grew up in a staunchly religious household. His father, after retiring from his daily duties as a brewer, took up the practice of preaching at a fanatical pace. Daily Bible studies and private tutoring were mainstays in 'Alick's' childhood; however, after his father's death, his mother's efforts at indoctrinating her son in the Christian faith only served to provoke his scepticism. As a child, his constant rebellious behaviour displeased his devout mother to such an extent she would chastise him by calling him 'The Beast' (from the Book of Revelation), an epithet that Crowley would later happily adopt for himself. He objected to the labelling of what he saw as life's most worthwhile and enjoyable activities as 'sinful'.
In 1895, he went to Trinity College, Cambridge after schooling at the public school Malvern College. His three years at Cambridge were happy ones, due in part to coming into the considerable fortune left by his father. Throughout this period, he maintained a vigorous sex life, which was largely conducted with prostitutes and girls he picked up at local pubs and cigar shops, but eventually extended into homosexual activities in which he played the passive role.
In December of 1896, following an event that he describes in veiled terms, Crowley decided to pursue a path in occultism and mysticism. By the next year, he began reading books by alchemists and mystics, and books on magic. [read more about this extraordinary man]
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