Nevertheless, Crowley was intrigued by the association of Satan with sexual energy, and with darkness. He came to the conclusion that Satan or Shaitan, the Hebrew being derived from the Egyptian god Set-the sun in the south that blackens everything (and becomes to the physical eye invisible or occult)-had acquired his evil overtone from a war between rival solar priests in Egypt. Osirian priests, taking the myth of the murder of their god by his brother somewhat literally, eventually triumphed, and Set's followers went underground.
Crowley sometimes identified Shaitan with Aiwass, his unconscious self-or the self of which he was largely unconscious. The Hebrews had simply taken over from the Egyptians this idea of Satan, the Adversary (as he appears as God's servant, the one that tempts, in the biblical Book of Job). In time he became the actual and cosmic adversary in their more Osirian (or in Greek mythology Apollonian) god, with the resultthat Set/Shaitan became ever more the receptacle for ideas of evil, anti-God or antihuman, and so on.Now from page 357 of Gnostic Philosophy: A similar range of ideas can be seen in Nietzche's Birth of Tragedy, in which the German philosopher pits the Apollonian (sun god) virtues and classical Greek theater against the earlier demonic and instinctive, cthonic and unconscious life, symbolized as Dionysus. Dionysus is the energy of the Bacchic revel that tears the ego to pieces (as the body of Osiris was found in pieces and reconstituted by Isis, the Earth Mother). We are accustomed to thinking of the artist (magician) as being driven by his demon, careless of the values of the world. All this explains why dominant Western culture has had such a problem with the bohemian (Bohemia had been the home of Hermetic alchemy in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries). The artist, the reveler, the Falstaffian figure, the rock-and-roller-all have been treated with contempt until contained and the joy or ecstasy controlled. Materialist culture is fearful of what Crowley was and stood for. It is the urge for order over what is perceived to be chaos-and repression by almost any means is the tool.
Apollo is inevitably a materialist in this context, clinging to the hope of the solid, the visible, the stable, while the whole universe (ignoring Newton and praising Bohr) is crying out that things just ain't that way! This is what Blake means when he sees the sun no as "a golden guinea" but as a host of angels crying out "Holy! Holy! Holy!" Apollo here corresponds to the Gnostics' Demiurge or Blake's Old Nobodaddy, the archrationalist, the divider, the cosmic accountant-likewise the disrespect of Gnostics fo the God of the Law. But it happened, according to Crowley's way of thinking,that the Osirian and Jehovistic wing got hold of the Christian Church, linking it up to the legality and force of the Roman Empire.One thing that has always fascinated me is if Crowley really thought he himself was the man who was the harbinger of the New Age. It would definitely appear that he thought that the ancient conflict between Osiris (or in Greek mythology Apollo-the rational, clockwork, "materialist" god-Blake's Old Nobodaddy) and Set (or Satan. Shaitan of the Hebrews, who over the centuries became identified with all that was evil-Crowley, of course, sometimes identified Shaitan with Aiwass) intensified in April 1904 when Horus-the Crowned and Conquering Child, came to rule over the future of humanity. His involvement with the Invocation of Horus during this time and his basic anti-Christian viewpoints may indeed have led him to believe he was the Beast (the solar man, 666) of the Apocalypse.
However, depending on the light one is viewing Aleister Crowley in-this may have actually been a "good" and necessary event. Obviously if one is a fundamentalist Christian, the prism you would view anyone proclaiming themselves to be the Beast of the Apocalypse would be very different! Overall-as a human being-it is very hard to see where Crowley was any more or any less evil that the great mass of humanity. In Gnostic Philosophy on page 358: But has it not occurred to his detractors that the Satan of their personal mythology would find it more appropriate to infiltrate quietly, subtly, stealthily, under guise of being something else? In the Hermetic scheme of things, the real darkness comes from repressed energies, mangled, regrouping, and then overwhelming the psyche. It is the unrestrained Apollonian total-control, total-order, total-law states that have generated the greatest evil. The worst murderers have been found to be cool, orderly, calm, often distinguished by the ice of intellect that has frozen out the Love under Will that is, according to Aleister Crowley, the agent of the world's salvation. Here is part of a letter that Crowley wrote to his son taken from the "Notes" section of Gnostic Philosophy. Written in the last year of his life this letter certainly doesn't evoke any "Satanic" images in me!: My dear Son, This is the first letter that your father has ever written to you, so, you can imagine that it will be very important, and you should keep it and lay it to your heart [...] I want you to learn to behave as a Duke would behave. You must be high-minded, generous, noble, and above all, without fear. For that last reason you must never tell a lie; for to do so shows that you are afraid of the person to whom you tell it, and I want you to be afraid of nobody. [...] There is one more point that I want to impress upon you! The best models of English writing are Shakespeare and the Old Testament, especially the Book of Job, the Psalms, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. It will be a very good thing for you to commit as much as you can, both of these books and of the best plays of Shakespeare to memory, so that they form the foundation of your style: and in writing English, the most important quality you can acquire is style. [...] Your affectionate father, Aleister That brings to an end the Aleister Crowley part of this series. I very much appreciate the wonderful, kind and intelligent comments from everyone who has enjoyed this series-the links too Anadae! I have ordered Gnostic Philosophy by Tobias Churton-I enjoyed this part so much and the many other aspects of Gnosticism he talks about and enjoy his style of writing enormously-the book is over 400 pages long and has very detailed (and lengthy) Notes, Bibliography and Index sections. I would like to return to the subject of Gnosticism fairly soon-after taking a break to work on some other things-both for this blog-and other stuff. All the best to anyone stopping by!