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TMaroney: Crowley and Satanism

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.satanism,talk.religion.misc
Subject: TMaroney: Crowley and Satanism 
From: (nagasiva)
Date:  5 Dec 96 20:56:57 GMT

[from : Tim Maroney ]

>>By definition the Satan of Satanists is not the Satan 
>>of Christians; it is a reinterpretation and reclamation of a demonized 

>Post Crowley, minority and growing.  What does that have to do with Crowley's

Why do you say that? Do you think that Blake's Satanic reinterpretation 
of Swedenborg in "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" was post-Crowleyan, 
for instance, or that the Satan of Baudelaire was the Satan of Calvin, or 
that Levi's identification of "the devil" as the "instrument of liberty" 
was in line with Church teaching at the time? Crowley was hardly the 
first of the Western reinterpreters of the Satanic, nor will he be the 

>Crowley did a similar thing, different in his own way and for other
>ends.  He didn't use the style of the term for what he did.  This is like
>AMORC claiming that Francis Bacon was a past Imperitor of their organization.
>Worse, since Bacon wrote of Rosicrucianism.


>>Are you actually resting your argument on 
>>your "suspicion" that there was some precursor of the Apocalypse in which 
>>there were forms of the Beast and the Scarlet Woman that were not demonic 
>>or linked with the Dragon, Satan? Is there the slightest evidence for 
>>this, or are you simply multiplying entities and flouting Occam's razor? 

>What is your point?  "St. John" didn't write it.  Mead contends there are
>pre-Christian precursors.  The G.'.D.'. played with it in terms of Qabalah.
>Crowley specialized in his own interpretation of the symbols and such.

None of this seems to have anything to do with the issue. I could point 
out that Rudolph Steiner was also quite interested in the symbolism of 
the Apocalypse, or that there were many Apocalypses attributed to 
different people, but what would that have to do with Crowley's 
self-identification as the Beast from the Apocalypse attributed to John?

>Why would the entities in it be demonic or "linked with the Dragon, Satan"?

Because the text says so in clear and direct language. It uses the phrase 
"the great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan", 
then links him with the beast and the whore of Babylon: "the dragon had 
handed over to it [the beast] his own power and throne and world-wide 
authority"; "a woman riding a scarlet beast who had seven heads and ten 
horns". I trust you are familiar with Revelations, chapters 12, 13, and 
17? Though the book is often ambiguous (to say the least) its Satanic 
symbols are undeniable here.

>>I do see in Mead that the Dragon is linked with Satan as the lord of the 
>>punishments in the Outer Darkness in the Pistis Sophia (pp. 490, 492, 
>>503), which implies that if there was some Gnostic precursor of the 
>>Apocalypse, then if it featured the same characters, there was still a 
>>link to Satan.

>How implies?  There were and are many forms of Gnosticism.  Is the precursor
>Gnostic?  Not even that is established.

Funny, that's not what you said in your previous message: "The underlying 
material in the Apocalypse attributed to John is still accessible under 
the distortion, quite valuable, based on Merkabah and influenced by 
Gnostic ideas." It seems that this hypothetical precursor is Gnostic or 
not as it suits you. The attempt to explain away the Satanic symbols of 
the Revelation through this (infinitely flexible) precursor of the 
Apocalypse of John seems to have nothing going for it in the way of 

>>while there seems to be no way for him to have known about your 
>>hypothetical precursor,

>Since he followed a course of denying the accuracy of the NT and completely
>re-interpreted Revelations away from the Christian ideas, I find it difficult
>to understand how you can imagine anything else short of invention out of
>whole cloth.

This is another non sequitur. I ask again: Suppose that there was some 
(currently unknown) precursor of the Apocalypse of John such that the 
symbols that were Satanic in the later form were not Satanic in the 
original. How is it that Crowley came into contact with this lost text 
and was influenced by it?

Further, why does he then go ahead and use the Satanic legend from the 
later form, as already quoted from Liber Samekh ("Satan... whose number 
of Magick is 666, the seal of His servant the Beast")?

>>that selling one's soul to the devil is a fit metaphor for 
>>crossing the Abyss,

>No, rather a description of the failure of that experience in an unsuitable


>>And the relevance of this observation is what again? You seem to have 
>>some idea of what Satanism is that does not have much to do with the way 
>>I am using the term.

>I confess to being unable to guess how you are using the term.
>You appear to be attributing a usage to Crowley that dates from the 1950's,
>at the same time alleging that any positive use of words characterized by
>Christians as Satanic makes one a Satanist.  This is very obscure to me.

I don't know of any major transformation of the words "Satanism" or 
"Satanic" that began in the 1950's. I am looking at earlier usages than 
that in the Oxford English Dictionary right now. "Satanic" means "of or 
pertaining to Satan" and dates back centuries; "Satanism" has two main 
meanings, both of which apply to Crowley: the worship of Satan (see Liber 
Samekh, again) and the "Satanic school" in literature, beginning with 
Byron and Shelley, of which Crowley was a self-proclaimed part.

Crowley used the word "Satanism" with respect to himself (Confessions, p. 
73). The last time this came up, you claimed he had referred to "my 
Satanism" as a childish affectation; in fact, not only does he never 
forewear this allegiance, but as the Confessions go on he continues to 
discuss his romance with the figure of Satan and with other proponents of 
the figure, such as Shelley, Baudelaire and (in Crowley's eyes, as in 
those of others, such as Blake) Milton.

>>In what way would metaphorical use of Satanic 
>>terminology undercut the idea of Crowley's Satanism? To me it seems to 
>>support it.

>If Crowley used "Satanic terminology" as metaphor, to that extent he could
>not be a believing Satanist.  That others characterize themselves
>now-a-days as "Satanists" and also use a different metaphor would appear
>to me to be irrelevant.

There are not now, and never have been, many literalistic Satanists. In 
the West this has almost always been a consciously mythic/symbolic usage 
among the intelligentsia. I don't know where you got the idea that this 
metaphorical Satanism started in the 1950's, but I can only direct you 
once again to the OED, or perhaps to Crowley's Confessions, where a 
number of Satanists of this type appear as acknowledged influences.

>>As for the epiphenomenality of Satan in Liber Samekh, this is not supported
>>by the text which freely uses Satan time and again; in which other "DEVILS" 
>>(described as such) such as Besz and Apophrasz are called upon; and which 
>>contains the following illuminating passage:
>>"Now this word SABAF, being by number Three score and Ten, is a name of 
>>Ayin, the Eye, and of the Devil our Lord, and the Goat of Mendes. He is 
>>the Lord of the Sabbath of the Adepts, and is Satan, therefore also the 
>>Sun, whose number of Magick is 666, the seal of His servant the BEAST."

>How you can quote that in support of your contention is beyond me.
>It clearly refutes your assertion.  Here is Crowley using correspondences
>and discussing a non-Christian handling of ideas in Revelations and 
>That no more makes him a "Satanist" by his lights and time than wearing
>loops on a jacket makes one a Frenchman.

These seem to be more non sequiturs. Crowley refers to himself as the 
Biblical Great Beast, explicitly affirms that he is a servant of Satan, 
and to you this proves he was not any kind of Satanist. That is a 
nonsensical mode of argument.

>>Here it is made perfectly plain that the repeated use of the name Satan 
>>in the translation of the main invocation was not some accident, but a 
>>deliberate and enthusiastic adoption by Crowley.

>Yes, he wrote it with vigor.  Your point?

My point is that Crowley used Satanic symbols in a positive light with 
enthusiasm and at central points in his system. That is all I have said 
all along, and all I am saying now.

>>the explicit reiteration of the relationship between Satan and the Beast 
>>from the "Apocalypse of John". This puts an end, I hope, to any further 
>>unsupported suspicions that Crowley was actually referring to some 
>>hypothetical pre-Satanic text of the Apocalypse.

>I rather think it evidences that he thought he was expounding an earlier use.

Is there more to this than simple speculation? Is there anything about 
his words in themselves which would lead anyone to believe he was 
referring to a hypothetical precursor of the Apocalypse in which the 
Beast and Scarlet Woman were not connected with Satan? By saying "Satan" 
and "His servant the Beast" he seems to be reaffirming the Satanic 
symbolism. I don't see how another reading is possible. The reiteration 
of the doctrine of the Apocalypse is a fact about the text. What layers 
of meaning Crowley attached to that doctrine is a matter of 
interpretation, but the Satanic nature of the doctrine -- "of or 
pertaining to Satan" -- is there in the ink on the page.

>>Now of course we could get into all sorts of interpretation about what he 
>>meant by Satan, the Beast, and so on, but as for whether they are 
>>Satanic, well, he uses the word Satan and makes undeniable allusions to 
>>myths bearing on Satan, so the only reasonable answer is that the texts 
>>are Satanic.

>If this is your thesis, you have no thesis but reduction to trivia.
>As you are a serious writer, I can only assume that you have something
>else as yet uncommunicated to my understanding in this discussion.
>He wears blue clothing, hence he is a Bluest!  Why bother to mention it?

Fear not. If at some point I should find that Crowley had written an 
important invocation of the form, "O thou bluest of blue! Thou raiment 
which hath absorbed such a dye, yea, as if to reflect the very Ether, 
thou who cleansest us as that great Ocean of Azure, O thou Cerulean 
Vestment, O thou Blouse of Sheerest Sapphire, fasten thy splendid buttons 
upon the breast of thy adorer", or repeated passages in his Confessions 
stating that "This difference between the Blue and Red Shirts was of the 
greatest importance to me, and for my part, I stood squarely on the side 
of the Blue, as Shelley and Milton had done before", I would indeed come 
to think of him as a Blueist.

The fact is that from Crowley's own writings it is clear that this issue 
of Satanism was one about which he cared very deeply; it ranks with his 
major themes and is integral to his self-definition as the Great Beast. 
To you it is not one of his main themes. That's fine. You have every 
right (even an obligation) to create your own system of Thelema with its 
own system of values; but you seem to be making the common mistake of the 
religious: you are confusing what you prefer to think with what is 
written in the books of the religion. Rather than simply saying "Crowley 
felt this was important, but I do not", you adjust your account of what 
Crowley thought to fit your own views. As long as you continue to 
misrepresent the historical facts this way, you will find me returning 
the public attention to them.

Tim Maroney

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