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Crowley and Satanism

To: alt.magick.tyagi
From: tyagI@houseofkaos.Abyss.coM (tyagi mordred nagasiva)
Subject: Re: Crowley and Satanism (Was Re: More fake AC bio ...)
Date: 28 Nov 1994 10:30:40 GMT

[from alt.magick: (Tim Maroney)]

Bill Heidrick (BH) and I (TM) are discussing the issue of Crowley's
attitude toward Satan, and by implication, the connection between
Thelema and Satanism, if any.

TM> There's little doubt that to Crowley, "Satan" was an entirely
TM> positive symbol, and he repeatedly identified himself with it.

BH> Tim, I disagree with you on this utterly.  It simply isn't true.
BH> Crowley did use "Satan" as the subject of poetry and irony, but
BH> he denied the existence of the critter.  "Entirely positive"
BH> is belied by many instances of his usage.

And yet, of these "many" instances, you were able to cite only one,
amidst numerous positive uses of the name "Satan".  Here it is:

"and Satan is only so incoherent and so formless because he is made
up of all the rags of ancient theogonies."

Not having an electronic copy of the Equinox I.10, I can't find this
using computerized search, and I also haven't located it in a quick
scan through the printed volume.  What I have found in that book is
this, which you must have seen in your search, but didn't mention:

Hymn to Satan

I adore Thee, King of Evil,
    By the body Thou hast fashioned
In the likeness of a devil.
    By its purity impassioned
I adore Thee, King of Evil!

I adore Thee, Lord of Malice,
    By the soul that Thou hast moulded
Lovely as a lily-chalice
    To the sombre sun unfolded.
I adore Thee, Lord of Malice!

And so on.  This verse speaks for itself, I think.  I don't understand
why a poetic usage of Satan wouldn't demonstrate his real feelings about
the subject.  Isn't poetry the language of feeling?

Every other reference you gave to Satan was positive (at least the
ones from Crowley; obviously, quotes from his full-length translation
of a book by Levi tell us nothing about his own attitudes).  And you
left out quite a lot.  There are nearly as many positive references
to Satan in "Liber Samekh" alone as in all your citations.  There's
the fact that our Alex took the motto of Dr. Faustus (V.V.V.V.V.)
on crossing the Abyss.  There's the _Book_of_Thoth_ on the Devil
trump, and his oft-repeated positive interpretation of Hell.  Etc.

You cited Crowley referring to himself as having gone over to
Satan's side in the _Confessions_, which he also said in the
dedication to "Why Jesus Wept" in the _Collected_Works_,
which you didn't mention.  Can you cite one place where he said
that he =stopped= being on Satan's side, or foreswore Satan?

You further cited three cases in which Crowley explicitly equated
"Satan" with the related Thelemic symbols of Hadit, Aiwass, and
the Beast.  There are others.

You did not mention -- and in fact edited out my reference to --
his use of the name Satan in "Liber Samekh".  No reasonable and
disinterested person reading that document could fail to conclude
that it was a Satanic ritual, with its numerous invocations
in such phrases as, "Satan, Thou Eye, Thou Lust!  Cry aloud!
Cry aloud!  Whirl the Wheel, O my Father, O Satan, O Sun!"

Perhaps this is why, when I raised these issues with a former Deputy
National Grand Master of the O.T.O. some years ago and he did his
own text search (much like yours), he spontaneously reversed his
position and agreed that, yes, it appeared that Thelema did have
a great deal to do with Satanism after all.  His quotations proved
my case for me, as do yours.

BH> The more profound usages of "Satan" by
BH> Crowley appear to be totally irrelevant to Christian ideas.

Well, no.  That's like saying that his use of "Thelemite" is
irrelevant to Rabelais.  An allusion is an allusion.  If he didn't
want to allude, he would use a different name.  What he was saying
about Satan is the same thing any Satanist, from the crudest to
the most profound, must say: that the qualities traditionally
associated with "Satan" deserve praise rather than blame.

Exactly which "Satanic" qualities are esteemed depends on which
"Satanist" one is talking to.  For Crowley, the attributes to reclaim
were phallic.  For someone else they might be intelligence and humor,
as in Shaw's _The_Devil's_Disciple_, or the Promethean bestowal of
forbidden powers on humanity, as in Shelley, or brilliant power and
activity in opposition to cold order and stasis, as in Blake.  None
of these Satanisms esteems the Christian idea of Satan; in fact, they
mock it, as a veil for ideas which were inconvenient to priests.

Is this an ironic usage, as you assert?  Yes.  Irony consists of an
inner meaning which is the opposite of the outer meaning.  That is
exactly what any Satanism asserts: that the horrific exoteric form
of Satan in Christian belief masks a splendid esoteric reality.
If I understand you correctly, you are claiming that Crowley's
"Satan" was not "Satanism" because it was ironic, but I know
of no Satanism which is not ironic -- in fact, I can't imagine such
a thing.  The ironic reversal of meaning is necessary.  Without it
one cannot say anything good about Satan at all.

TM> His tradition of Thelema has a great deal to do with the Satanic
TM> symbols of the Beast and the Scarlet Woman, servitors of the
TM> Draconic form of Satan in the Apocalypse of John.

BH> Calling these various things "Satanic symbols" is not responsible,
BH> IMHO.  To Christians, yes, mostly.  To Satanists, some, yes, some no.
BH> To Thelemites, mostly no.  To the author of the Apocalypse, definitely
BH> no.   Where do you get "servitors of the Draconic form of Satan..."?
BH> That one throws me.

I got it from the source I cited: the Apocalypse of John.  To the
author of the Apocalypse, definitely =yes=: the Beast and the Scarlet
Woman are explcitly labelled as Satanic symbols.

"The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan,
who had deceived all the world, was hurled down to the earth and his
angels were thrown down with him."  Rev. 12:9

"I saw a beast emerge from the sea: it had seven heads and ten horns,
and its heads were marked with blasphemous titles.  I saw that the beast
was like a leopard, with paws like a bear and a mouth like a lion; the
dragon had handed over to it his own power and his throne and his
world-wide authority."  Rev. 13:1-2

"I saw a woman riding a scarlet beast which had seven heads and ten horns
and had blasphemous titles written all over it.  The woman was dressed in
purple and scarlet, and glittered with gold and jewels and pearls, and
she was holding a gold wine cup filled with the disgusting filth of her
fornication; on her forehead was written a name, a cryptic name: 'Babylon
the Great, the mother of all the prostitutes and all the filthy practices
on the earth.'"  Rev 17:3-5

I repeat, with no fear of "irresponsibility":  The Beast and the Scarlet
Woman are servitors of the Draconic form of Satan in the Apocalypse of
John.  The dragon is named as Satan; it is from the dragon that the Beast
derives his authority; the Whore of Babylon is working with the Beast.
The text is entirely clear on this point.

Perhaps this is why, when I discussed this issue of the Apocalypse with a
former Grand Secretary General of the O.T.O. some years ago, he reversed
his position, and since then has defended in speech and in writing the
fact that the Beast and the Scarlet Woman are Satanic symbols and that
Thelema has an intrinsic connection to Satanism.  (I believe he submitted
a short essay on that theme to the Calendar, which was not accepted.)

TM> Our own Bill Heidrick denies that any of these symbols are actually
TM> central to Thelema, to which opinion he is of course entitled, just as
TM> I am entitled to the opinion that Crowley did consider them central.

BH> On the centricity or lack of it in the symbols, I've never commented.

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your comments in the Thelema Lodge Calendar
of June 1993 and February 1994.  They do seem to be downplaying the
significance of the Beast and Satan.  My apologies if I've misrepresented
your views.

BH> On the meaning of these symbols in Crowley's usage and in Thelema,
BH> not all of this is a matter of opinion.  There is ample evidence in
BH> Crowley's writings toward determination of actual fact of usage.

I agree, and all the evidence is that Crowley used the name "Satan"
in a positive way, to represent solar-phallic energies demonized under
Christianity.  He also used traditionally Satanic symbols such as
the Beast and the Scarlet Woman in the same positive, pro-sexual way.
He did not idolize the Christian idea of Satan, and in fact criticized
it explicitly, as when he said "The Devil does not exist....  The Devil
is, historically, the God of any people that one personally dislikes."
He did revere the reclaimed idea of the Devil, as when he followed
the passage I've just quoted by saying that Satan was one with Aiwass
(Crowley's own "Holy Guardian Angel") and Hadit (one of the Thelemic
trinity), going on for six more sentences praising Satan and "the Devil"
after denying the accuracy of the Christian view of that character.
(MTP, XXI)  This is not a matter of opinion, but a fact about the text.

However, incorrect as your opinion may be, you're still entitled
to it.  You can edit Thelema to be non-Satanic, and I would never say
that your form of Thelema is invalid on those grounds.  If you don't
edit out the Satanism, though, there it is.  Together with many other
things, to be sure!  Thelema is not merely Satanism any more than it
is merely Egyptology or merely Freemasonry, but all of those things
(and others) are among its primary sources.
Tim Maroney.  Please CC all public responses to

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