Chapter 9: A Celebrity Sorcerer Goes Spying
Born in 1875, in Leamington, England, Aleister Crowley was, and for many still is, the ultimate occultist. He’s also a man who, decades after his death in 1947, has developed a significant and devoted following in the world of the rich and famous. Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page once lived in an old and creepy house that Crowley owned. Its name is Boleskine House and it is located on the shores of Scotland’s infamous and equally creepy Loch Ness. Former Black Sabbath vocalist and reality TV star, Ozzy Osbourne, co-wrote a song about the master magician titled “Mr. Crowley.” The magician’s photo appears on the cover of the Beatles’ 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. And a bust of the man himself can be seen on the back cover of the Doors’ 1970 compilation record, 13. Add to that various references to Crowley in the musical output of David Bowie, and you have a man and an occultist with near-rock-star-like status and legend. But there’s far more than that to the man who Ozzy made famous.
Aleister Crowley, also famously referred to as the Great Beast, was someone who harbored a profound and amazing secret: for years he worked in an undercover, and unofficial, capacity for British Intelligence. Don’t, however, expect the British Government to confirm this or release any secret files anytime soon on its relationship with, and to, Crowley. Never mind. British officials may have deemed us unworthy of knowing the magic-filled truth, but that doesn’t mean we can’t uncover that same truth via good old investigative techniques. Before we get to this latter point, though, let’s head back to the beginnings of the Beast.
From the church to the loch
Aleister Crowley was the son of a noted brewer and, ironically, someone who was brought up in a devout Christian environment and taught in an evangelist school. This was hardly surprising, given that his father, Edward, was a full-brown preacher. We can, perhaps, deduce from all of this that young Aleister, when he began to look in distinctly different areas for spiritual comfort and enlightenment, was demonstrating far more than a youthful, spirited rebellion. Certainly, by his teens Crowley was already displaying a deep interest in, and a fascination for, magical rituals and the ancient secrets of alchemy. At the age of 22, he joined a body called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a magical order which was founded in Great Britain during the late 19th century. It practiced theurgy which, essentially, is the process of using complex rites and rituals to command an audience with a supernatural entity or deity. One of those who taught Crowley a great deal about theurgy was a man named Alan Bennett. He was a member of the Golden Dawn, and someone from whom Crowley learned much about strange and dark realms beyond our own, and how the uncanny things that inhabited these other realms could be summoned forth. Crowley also developed an enthusiastic passion for travel, which took him to such diverse locations as Paris, London, and Mexico, the latter where he achieved the status of a 33rd Degree Mason.
As the 20th century began, and as he reached the age of 25, Crowley headed off to the wilds of Scotland and the home of the world’s most famous lake-monster: Loch Ness. While at Boleskine House—which backed onto an equally old and atmosphere-filled cemetery, a place where it was rumored an ancient witch coven practiced its dark and evil rites—Crowley wasted no time in living life to the full. Weekend-long, wild sex parties and midnight rites held on the shores of the ancient loch were just two of the many highlights. Some of the paranormal phenomena that Crowley allegedly conjured up at Boleskine House supposedly led a maid to flee in terror, never to return. A local workman who did chores for Crowley reportedly went completely mad. Then there was the butcher from a nearby village who died while slicing meat. He carelessly severed an artery and bled to death on the cold, stone floor of his own shop. This was no accident, claimed Crowley. How did he know this? Simple, according to the man himself, the butcher had billed him for a quantity of meat; but instead of paying the bill—as most of us would do—Crowley chose to write the names of various demonic entities on the bill and send far more than a bit of negative and lethal energy in the direction of the butcher’s workplace.
A scarlet woman and a thing called Lam
For the first three months of 1918, Crowley was on the receiving end of various messages that, in essence, were telepathically transferred to him by a woman named Roddie Minor, or as Crowley preferred to call her, his scarlet woman. History has shown she was not Crowley’s only scarlet woman; but she was certainly one of the most significant. And for a very good reason: Minor’s messages were reportedly coming from supernatural entities that varied wildly from the demonic to the angelic. Crowley wasn’t interested in just receiving messages, however. Echoing back to his theurgy-based studies of the late 1800s, Crowley was wholly intent on using ritual and rite to actually call forth the entities behind the messages and, then, have those same entities manifest before him. Crowley knew more than enough of the occult world to say for sure that the old adage of “be careful what you ask for” held true; ominously so, too. Unlocking and then opening the doors to dimensions very different to ours was one thing. But successfully banishing back to those same dimensions whatever kind of paranormal creature might come through, was another matter entirely. Nevertheless, Crowley was not one to be deterred so easily. As a result, he embarked on something called the Amalantrah Working.
It might sound like the plot of one of H.P. Lovecraft’s most nightmarish, ghoulish tales of dark terror. According to Crowley, however, it was all too amazingly true. The Amalantrah Working saw Crowley commence upon a complicated, ancient ritual while under the influence of both mescaline and hashish—at the same time. Not surprisingly, Crowley was quickly rendered into a manifestly out of this world-style condition of consciousness. It was while in this highly altered, stoned, and trippy state that Crowley encountered a somewhat sinister, foreboding, and judgmental-looking creature that called itself Lam. With a large bald head, penetrating eyes, and withered body, Lam was practically the identical twin of the strange, hairless entity that stares famously forth from the cover of Whitley Strieber’s 1987 alien abduction-themed book, Communion. Crowley, however, didn’t consider Lam to be an extraterrestrial in the way we understand the word today. For the magician who knew no boundaries, Lam was an Enochian entity. It was a term inspired by the Enochian Call, a language that had been developed by Dr. John Dee, a magician of renown in Britain of the 1600s. Notably, and eerily echoing the Communion parallels, Dee and a colleague, Edward Kelly, had their own ritual-born encounters with ominous, diminutive humanoids that soared the skies and surfed the dimensions. They did so in what Dee described as a small blazing cloud. Or in what, today, we might well term a UFO. Crowley, having invited Lam into his presence and having survived to tell the tale, was far from done with courting controversy.
Crowley’s death: fakery and reality
In 1930—demonstrating a flair for both controversy and black humor—Crowley decided to fake his own demise. In September of that year, he spent time in the Portuguese city of Cascais. At the appropriately named Boca do Inferno (the Mouth of Hell), a water-filled rift that sits within the seaside cliffs of the city, Crowley put his plan into action. He had help from Fernando Pessoa, an acclaimed Portuguese poet and publisher. The story was that Crowley died in the choppy waters of Boca do Inferno. It was a story that the world’s media quickly reported upon. It was, however, all an outrageous lie. A highly satisfied and amused Crowley quietly and stealthily left Portugal, and duly laid low for a while. His resurrection took place three weeks later in Berlin, Germany. The dead magician, his followers were delighted to learn, was not quite as dead after all.
In 1944, as war raged across Europe and the Pacific, Crowley published a title for which he has become renowned: The Book of Thoth, which described his usage of, beliefs surrounding, and philosophies concerning, tarot cards. It was to be his last major achievement. Crowley died on December 1, 1947 at age 72. Had it not been for serious addictions to both morphine and heroin, he might have lived longer. Regardless, Crowley’s name, influence, and role in the development of 20th century magic all live on; perhaps even within the secret-filled corridors of power too.
Crowley the spy: the early years
Created in 1883, the Primrose League was a body designed to uphold and disseminate right-wing, conservative views amongst the British population and the media. In other words, it acted as a kind of unofficial publicity machine. Playing a key role in the creation of the league was Lord Randolph Churchill, father to the acclaimed British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, who successfully steered the British people through the turbulent years of the Second World War. Interestingly, the initial meeting that led to the creation of the group was held at the Carlton Club, on London’s St. James’s Street. A prestigious locale that was practically a second home to the movers and shakers of conservatism, the Carlton Club is, today, well known (unofficially, at least) for the many and varied employees of MI5 and MI6 that are among its elite members. That alone makes it all the more intriguing that there is a connection between Aleister Crowley and the Carlton Club. In his youth, the controversial magician was a full-blown member. Crowley’s role was to spy on those powerful figures in politics that were firmly against conservative principles. Perhaps this was where Crowley got a taste for the secret world of espionage that was soon to follow.
Bolstering this possibility is a story suggesting that Crowley’s decision to join the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, while not undertaken at the orders of British Intelligence agents, was hardly frowned upon by leading establishment figures. And for one good purpose: within the Golden Dawn was a man named Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers. He was an unusual and enigmatic character—a vegan, a Freemason, and someone vehemently against smoking (when it was practically de rigueur to puff away like a chimney). Despite his standing with the Freemasons, who were, and still are, dominated by powerful establishment figures, Mathers is known to have harbored a secret interest in radical politics and extremism. Crowley, the story goes, was encouraged by late 19th century English spymasters to apply at least some of his time with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn to closely watching Mathers, and monitoring with whom he spoke and where he went. Ominously, Mathers died in 1918, under mysterious circumstances. Additionally, his death certificate lacked a cause of death, his body quickly vanished, and no grave or memorial stone exists for him anywhere. It was almost as if someone, perhaps someone wielding great power from within the heart of London’s secret, inner-world, wanted the man gone for good. And maybe they got exactly what they wanted.
Aleister Crowley didn’t shy away from his bisexuality. One of those with whom he had a sexual relationship was Victor Neuberg, a publisher, poet, and writer. In 1909, Crowley and Neuberg made their first of a number of trips to Algiers, the capital of Algeria. The reason was to engage in sex-based magical rituals that followed the teachings of the aforementioned Dr. John Dee. Or was that the reason? Or maybe, more correctly, was it the only reason? Could it have been the case that this is what Crowley, and possibly British spies, wanted people to think? Algeria was under French rule at the time that Neuberg and Crowley were in residence. As a result, the local police, titled the Services des Affaires Indigenes, had both men solidly in their sights. They held suspicions that Crowley, in particular, was doing more than a bit of spying on the French military for the British Government, and using his occult-based actions as an ingenious cover story. Maybe those same police officers knew something on which, today, we can only speculate and theorize.
Around this same time, Crowley got mixed up with a man named Karl Theodor Reuss. Not only was Reuss heavily into the occult, he was also a member of the Illuminati and a Freemason. And, in the late 1800s, he just happened to work for the secret police of Prussia. This was a body so feared that it led Adolf Hitler to model the equally feared Gestapo on its ruthless methods of interrogation and data collection. One operation in which Reuss is known to have played a role occurred in London around 1885 or 1886. It was Reuss’ task, at the secret orders of the Prussians, to find a way into the Socialist League to determine its funding, membership, and plans. Since it was Reuss who made Crowley a member of a religion-based body, the Ordo Templi Orientis, it seems safe to say they shared a fair degree of common ground.
When the First World War broke out in 1914, Crowley played a prominent role in helping the war effort. At the time, Crowley was living—albeit just for a few years—in the United States. While in the States, Crowley made a number of vehemently anti-British statements. These were actually brilliant, collective subterfuge. The plan, drawn up by intelligence agents, was for Crowley to cultivate his seemingly traitorous character and infiltrate groups that were anti-British and pro-German, and then report back to London on what he had uncovered. To bolster the idea that Crowley was an outrageous traitor, government personnel—working with contacts in the media—inserted faked stories into the pages of influential and widely read British newspapers about his supposed lack of allegiance to Britain and the flag. The result: this significantly helped Crowley gain the trust of those pro-German figures in the United States that Crowley was actually working against. Then there was his relationship to the world of spying during the Second World War.
Finding the Crowley files is no easy task
Richard B. Spence, a consultant to the Washington, D.C.-based International Spy Museum, and a professor of history at the University of Idaho is the one persoare wise words (n, more than any other, who has tried to get to the heart of the connections between British Intelligence and Aleister Crowley. Before we get to the matter of missing documents, it is worth noting Spence’s thoughts on Crowley: “He was such a disreputable and even evil character in the public mind that arguably no responsible intelligence official would think of employing him. But the very fact that he seemed such an improbable spy was perhaps the best recommendation for using him.” To be sure, those are wise words (Spence, 2008).
Spence devoted a great deal of his time trying to uncover official files on Crowley from British Intelligence. It would be more than fair to say that Spence was given the definitive runaround. In early 2003, as a result of his inquiries with MI5, Spence was assured that the clandestine agency had never compiled any files on Crowley, whatsoever. That might have been just about okay, had it not been for the fact that shortly afterwards a document surfaced from within Britain’s National Archives—specifically a 1930s-era document generated by MI5—that referenced a file on Crowley. This was a major breakthrough. Except for one thing: MI5 informed Spence, when he made inquiries about the status and nature of the referenced file, that—wait for it, you know what’s coming—it could not be found. MI5’s response regarding the frustratingly missing dossier was of the type that, as we have seen time and again, government staff routinely trot out when troublesome questions are asked of them. The file was supposedly destroyed in the 1950s, by which time it was perceived as being of no meaningful use or value anymore. A similar comment was made with regard to yet other file references to Crowley that Spence uncovered soon afterward.
Such a situation is mirrored in the United States. Nevertheless, regarding Crowley’s time spent in the States when the First World War was raging, Spence discovered a document that originated with U.S. Army Intelligence and which may add a high degree of credence to the claims concerning his alleged espionage-based activities for the British during this period. In part, the Army’s report stated clearly that Aleister Crowley was an employee of the British Government, and that he was in the U.S. on official business, the nature of which the British Consul in New York had full awareness.
It’s also worth noting that Jack Parsons—a rocket scientist and a Crowley devotee who held a Top Secret clearance with the U.S. military in the 1940s, and whose declassified file has been withdrawn from the FBI’s Website—was investigated by the FBI and U.S. military intelligence in 1950. The combined files on Parsons make it clear that American officials knew all about the history that existed between Crowley and Parsons. This included the fact that, in 1942, Crowley personally chose Parsons to lead the Agape Lodge of the Ordo Templi Orientis in California. Since the FBI is the American equivalent of Britain’s MI5, and MI5 is known to have put together files on Crowley (even if, MI5’s staff claim, such files cannot be located today), the possibility that there may have been a transatlantic sharing of data between intelligence agencies cannot be ruled out.
But why should such seemingly extreme measures have been taken to try and expunge any evidence of Aleister Crowley’s connections to the domain of international espionage at all? The Second World War was a long time ago. The First World War was even further back into 20th century history. What’s the problem with sharing such old secrets in this day and age? The correct answer may well be the one that has been provided by a former U.S. intelligence officer, W. Adam Mandelbaum. He has noted that from the post-First World War era, and right up until the early part of the Second World War, Crowley “did in some capacity or other serve the needs of British Intelligence, working for MI5.” Of relevance to the theme of this book—hidden and missing files—Mandelbaum says: “Given the political fallout that would have resulted from making this involvement public, it should be no surprise that there is a paucity of documentation concerning Crowley’s intelligence efforts” (Mandelbaum, 2002). By now, no, it certainly is not a surprise!
From famous people, we now turn our attention to a collection of secret projects, the existence of which many official insiders have done their best to bury.
Excerpt from the New Page Books Blog
By Andrew W. Griffin, RedDirtReport.com.
Reading and reviewing the always-fascinating writings and research of author and “unsolved mysteries” lecturer Nick Redfern, for more than a decade, has allowed me to gain new insight on conspiracies and paranormal subjects.
And Redfern refuses to let up, as his latest book, For Nobody’s Eyes Only: Missing Government Files and Hidden Archives That Document the Truth Behind the Most Enduring Conspiracy Theories.
Kicking off with a sinister introduction that could have served as an Agent Mulder voiceover on The X-Files, Redfern tells his readers that “a small but influential body of characters secreted within the highest echelons of government” have been working hard, for many decades, to hide key bits of history, or, in some cases, burying, shredding and burning documents and evidence that could offer critical information on everything from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to the true nature of UFOs and what may or may not have happened at Roswell and Rendlesham Forest.
But why are these reports and documents and artifacts – in the hands of everyone from MI5 to the CIA to those “top men” that run that warehouse in Raiders of the Lost Ark keeping the public in the dark? Redfern, chapter-by-chapter, methodically explains what secrecy is and how it is viewed by various governments, primarily in the West.
And why did the CIA care so much about actress and bombshell Marilyn Monroe? Yes, she did have (allegedly) a sexual encounter with Indonesian leader Sukarno (quite the ladies man, I hear) and what of Princess Diana and “Squidgygate,” where secret recordings of her were made around Christmas 1989 where she tells a secret lover that she loathed the Royal Family and thought she might have been pregnant.
Of course Princess Diana died in 1997 in a mysterious car crash in Paris. It is known that various US and British agencies had tape and documents on the popular princess, information that could give the public more insight into what was really going on beyond the screaming tabloid headlines.
“But, when MI5, the CIA, the NSA, and the DIA flatly, and collectively, refuse to reveal what they have on file regarding Princess Diana, her private life, and her tragic death, we know for sure who isn’t in on the full story: us.”
And while that is interesting, it is some of the later chapters, those on sex-crazed English occultist and alleged spy Aleister Crowley, and later those on Operation Often and mind-control monster Sidney Gottlieb.
It is suggested that Crowley was in the pay of the British secret service and may have been using his foreign trips to engage in ritual magick as a cover for espionage.
Writes Redfern: “Aleister Crowley didn’t shy away from his bisexuality. One of those with whom he had a sexual relationship was Victor Neuberg, a publisher, poet, and writer. In 1909, Crowley and Neuberg made their first of a number of trips to Algiers, the capital of Algeria. The reason was to engage in sex-based magical rituals that followed the teachings of the aforementioned Dr. John Dee. Or was that the reason? Or maybe, more correctly, was it the only reason? Could it have been the case that this is what Crowley, and possibly British spies wanted people to think?”
Indeed. And in America, we had our own dark magicians in league with the government.
In a subsequent chapter that incorporates “sorcerers, Satanism and the CIA,” we learn of Dr. Sidney Gottlieb (aka “The Black Sorcerer”) who was keen on the black arts and LSD and mind control and got the attention of then-CIA Director Richard Helms (served between 1966 and 1973), who okayed Gottlieb’s establishment of “Operation Often.” This diabolical, government-funded project would have Gottlieb and his minions delving deeply into “black magic, voodoo, Ouija boards, séances, devil worship and sacrificial rites” – all while harnessing the forces of darkness.
And in 1972, when Operation Often agents approached a New York Catholic priest, in charge of that archdiocese’s exorcisms, to help them better understand demonology and how “forces of evil could be harnessed and utilized,” the monsignor protested and refused to participate in a program that was taking part in a “terrible, Faustian-like pact with Satan himself.” As Redfern notes, “(that) may well have been the intention of Gottlieb and his paranormal program.”
Redfern’s book notes the missing files related to the JFK assassination, a secret space program, the files of former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, nuclear tests using handicapped people as test subjects and more. Few stones are left unturned in Redfern’s important and insightful For Nobody’s Eyes Only.
- See more at: http://www.reddirtreport.com/rustys-reads/book-review-nobodys-eyes-only-nick-redfern#sthash.lamACeXJ.dpuf