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An excerpt from

The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley

Ian Thornton


Prologue


I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening;

I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.

(The Great Beast)

They used to call me the most evil man in the world. The fools said that I was more influential than Jesus. They reckoned that I had seduced thousands of women and even more young men. They postulated that I was a friend of Hitler and a rabid lover of a burgeoning Prussia, and then a vile and eager Germany. Some snaggle-toothed and half-baked merchants of broad appeal buffoonery still chunter unconfident, childish and stammered lines that I advocated rape, paedophilia and black magic. They hypothesised with little regard for fact that I sacrificed children, brainwashed The Beatles and dined with a vermillion Satan. When they offered as gospel that I faked my own death; they were wrong (at that time) and yet now remain only half right. This was to be the highest of their rank achievements over several decades.

My name is Aleister Crowley, The Great Beast. 666. And I am here to tell you the truth.

You see, wouldn't you want to do just that, if instead of being blamed for trying to torch the twentieth century, you had not only been responsible, in large parts, for rescuing it, but also for having been the salvation of the next millennium too? I mean, what is the point of busting an infernal gut to save one generation, if one then sits by, lights a girthy and corpulent cigar, scratches oneself around the well-cut trouser and watches meekly as quite preventable mischief and horror ensues. One has one’s Will to consider, one’s destiny, one’s Magick. And all fair students of Magick should, at almost all cost, avoid Nazis, fools and spiritualists as they should avoid the police and syphilis.

And yes, there was adultery, but adultery does not imply marriage, no more than whoredom implies commerce.

You might already be aware that for the longest time I could not care less about the conjecture surrounding my unrivallable degeneracies. So why pipe up now after all these years?

Some onlookers might ponder that the precise circle of people, who matter most dearly to me, have, of late, reached that stage, that plateau in their own delicious arc, where they have their own stories to tell, and I might be their most righteous publicist. These same onlookers, these ill-informed charlatans might infer that I wish only to add a certain historical gravitas to my friends` tales. The cretins would be wrong.

My sheet anchor is decency, common sense and love. And I say one must not cut one’s coat in accordance with the cloth, for even the meanest tailor knows that one must cut one’s cloth in accordance with the size of the man. And a plan can be so vital. I once set out to fall in love, knowing it be inevitable that my heart would break. For this was the only way that I might guarantee the most exquisite poetry from the depths of despair. There is little to rival such fine channelling of unabashed malice aforethought. This was two years in its epic execution and the result (‘Who said nec-romance was dead?’) was the most esteemed verse since Shelley tilted his brow and whispered of nightingales. Always inhabit the immoral high ground. Suggest to one’s foes that they cower, hushed, shrivelled and with belittled hardihoods.

*

So yes, perhaps I might like to confirm my loved ones’ claims of delicious ancestry and allow for their own veracities to be aired, their catharsis to lock into place with a click and, one hopes, for all of our efforts at a prevailing, vanquishing and enduring redemption to triumph. I might even reveal the identity of that Unknown Warrior, who lies in the Abbey, for there is a tale of my greatest ally and one that might even exonerate me.

But this is not why I am revealing all now, nor why I have to.

You see, it isn't every day that one can say, with not one word of a lie that one has saved the youth of the United States and the streets of England. What a cherishable pair of achievements. Or claim with full authority, as I can and as I have, to have done both the former and the latter more than once.

You hold in your hands my Last Testament, a gift to my sweet and unblossomed girl, so that she may reject vile tongues in years to come. My Will is my own.

I am healthy, though aged. I am blissfully cheered by each moment, each hour. I have an existence that almost all men should crave. But I am no ordinary man. I expect within three days that I shall be dead. As Hamlet himself sat on that high rock and pondered suicide, there is also here talk of a distant England, a girl, rumours of murder, insinuations of insanity, and yet with a textured calm, there is at the root of it all, a cold and targeted sanity. I shall commit an act that shall, that must end my life before this final weekend is through. I shall come to why? presently.