Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gnosticism & The "Real" World Part 6


Allan Bennett, who had given up on Western magic, and was about to begin a life as a Buddhist bhikku (novice monk), suggested that Crowley was too interested in evoking demons. This point of view from a good friend appeared to have started a questioning process in Crowley's mind and he went to Mexico with his friend and fellow mountaineer Oscar Eckenstein to look over his priorities and sort his thoughts out about where he was heading in his career.

A red notebook contains information about Crowley's activities in Mexico from January to April 1901, aside from climbing mountains of that country in double-quick time. On the cover of the notebook, next to a sketch of the Monas Hieroglyphica of John Dee, are the words: "Feb 2. My 2 and 1/2 years work crowned with success. We will probably never know exactly what happened but it was most probably some sort of spiritual attainment.

Crowley left Mexico for San Francisco and from there he sailed to Japan stopping for Hawaii. There is a diary entry of his for 18 June 1901, that reveals a yearning for the simple (but also very demanding spiritually) life of a Buddhist monk. He seems to be wanting to withdraw from the greed, stupidity, absurdity and illusion of the world: "Shall I go to Kamakura and live a hermit's life in the Temple? A tarot reading advised against this -and also offered a bit of advice to which the meaning soon became obvious: "Be wise in avoiding quarrel if Alice be obsessed."

From Yokohama Crowley wrote to his friend, Gerald Kelly who was an aspiring painter: "You are a good boy and I am a good boy and I am right and you are right and everything is quite correct...Japan is a fraud of the basest sort...To change the key. This is the strictest of all confidence. I have had the greatest love-affair of my long and arduous career (arduous is good). Her name was Mary Beaton. Think of it! Absolutely the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, of the imperial type, yet as sweet and womanly as I ever knew. Moreover, a lady to her fingertips. I call her Alice in the poems you will read about her, as she preferred that name. She was travelling for her health in Hawaii where we met. We loved and loved chastely (She has a hub & kids-one boy with her) I made her come with me. On the boat we fell to fucking, of course, but-here's the miracle! we won through and fought our way back to chastity & far deeper truer love. Now she's gone & forgetten but her sweet and pure influence has saved my soul. (Heb: Nephesch). I lust no more-What never? Well- hardly ever!

"...I wish you'd buck up with occultism so that I didn't have to talk with all this damned reticence. I have done none myself lately-there's been love and poetry going on. Also my ideas are changing and fermenting. You will not recognise my mind when I get back."

In the years of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one gets the feeling that Aleister Crowley was in the grip of some deep unresolved conflicts in his unconscious mind-these "issues" were struggling to make themselves known. The way this affected his actions in this timeframe is fascinating to look at. He had the soul of a lover, but seemed incapable of making a longstanding commitment. He was a poet-tried and true-his poetry received good reviews in the prewar press, but poetry was not where his destiny was either. He was the "98 pound-weakling" who turned his physical body into one that allowed him to become an accomplished mountaineer. In 1901, Crowley left for Sri Lanka.

Thanks to one and all of you for your beautiful thoughts and comments about the last few days-or about the posts on my blogs. I promise this bit with Aleister Crowley is going somewhere-sorry it is so slow-my back is hurting too much to not take a rather long break-or maybe even try to get back to this tomorrow. I would also like to do a post at my "history" blog today that just needs a bit of work in drafts to post.

Again I cannot tell you all what your friendship and support mean to me-and I will try to get to some friends who have updated today. I was so intrigued with this bit from Tobias Churton's Gnostic Philosophy: From Ancient Persia to Modern Times because it seems like the only "fair" treatment of Aleister Crowley I have ever seen written. Today's information in this post comes from pages 322 to 325 of that book. All the best!

3 comments:

Middle Ditch said...

Happy holidays Devin, great post.

Justin Russell said...

Excellent series Dev. Keep the info coming!
Season's greetings to you and yours.

Devin said...

Happy Holidays-and I hope a beautiful 2010 to you also MD-and the whole cast over at Middle Ditch!!

Justin-I am so glad you are enjoying this series -I have been (once again haha-never stops-having probs with NRG-etcetera-but am trying to overcome) in fact I hope to put another article up here shortly-and then a beautiful poem by William Keens at the top of the page -I hope you and everyone enjoy both!!
all the best to the both of you!!