a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


The Beast's Orientalism

To: alt.magick
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Re: The Beast's "Orientalism"
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 19:36:48 GMT

Jason Michael Rubino wrote:
[with respect to previous threads about Crowley's
"Orientalism" and the putative lineage by which he presented
himself as a teacher of yoga:

>  Aleister Crowley wrote:

> My friend and climbing companion, Oscar Eckenstein, gave me my first
> instructions in learning the control of the mind early in 1901 in
> Mexico City. 

Not yoga. 

> Shri Parananda, Solicitor General of Ceylon and an eminent writer upon
> and teacher of Yoga from the orthodox Shaivite standpoint, 


> and Bhikkhu Ananda Metteya, the great English Adept, 

A.k.a. Allen Bennett, a Buddhist, not a Hindu.

> who was one of my earliest
> instructors in Magick and joined the Sangha in Burma in 1902, gave me
> my first groundings in mystical theory and practice. 

Both Parananda and Bennett "gave [him] his first groundings
in mystical theory and practice" -- he does not claim that
either taught him yoga. 

> I spent some months of
> 1901 in Kandy, Ceylon, with the latter until success crowned my work.

The "latter" being Bennett, it appears that Crowley studied
Buddhism with the Englishman Bennett, not Shaivism or
Shaivite Yoga with the Ceylonese Parananda. 

> I also studied all varieties of Asiatic philosophy, 

Not yoga.

> especially with
> regard to the practical question of spiritual development the Sufi
> doctrines, 

Islamic mysticism; not yoga -- also note he studied this
branch of Islam as a college student might -- as an example
of "Asiatic philosophy," not as a practicing Sufi. 

> the Upanishads, the Sankhya, Vedanta, the Bhagavad Gita and
> Purana, the Dhammapada, and many other classics, together with
> numerous writings on the Tantra and Yoga of such men as Patanjali, 
> Vivekananda, etc.

More college or grad-school level book learning, not the
practice of yoga.

> Not a few of these teachings are as yet wholly unknown to scholars. 

This is the vain boast of an armchair mage -- and also, as
we have learned, it is not entirely truthful. For example,
Crowley did not read Chinese, he was simply using Legge's
translation of the Yi King. The same is true for the
Sanskrit texts he read in translation. This, in a nutshell,
points to why there is a lack of citation in 777 -- Crowley
desired to present himself as an expert in obscure Oriental
studies "as yet wholly unknown to scholars," so he had to
downplay the work of the English and French scholars upon
whose translations his work rested. 

> I made the scope of my studies as comprehensive as possible, omitting
> no school of thought however unimportant or repugnant.

No doubt his studies were comprehensive, but how trite and
"Orientalist" he is to add the gratuitous shock value of
implying that these "wholly unknown" secret oriental
classics contained "repugnant" spiritual teachings.

>  I made a critical examination of all these teachers in the light of
> my practical experiences. 

Here he presents himself not as a student, but rather a
super-authority or school board examiner who is qualified to
judge and assess the value of teachers. 

> The physiological and psychological uniformity of
> mankind guaranteed that the diversity of expression concealed a unity
> of significance. 

This statement serves Crowley's unitarian psychological
purpose in 777 by consolidating his authority as a judge of
spiritual teachers, but it flatly contradicts many other
statements made elsewhere by Crowley in which he expresses
the opinion that different races have differing -- and
racially uniform -- physiological and psychological traits.
In other portions of his writing, Crowley was anything BUT a

> This discovery,  furthermore, was confirmed by reference to
> Jewish, Greek and Celtic traditions. 

More armchair mage grad-school level reading.

> One quintessential truth was common to all cults, from the Hebrides to
> the Yellow Sea, and even the main branches proved essentially
> identical. It was only the foliage that exhibited incompatibility."

Here is the central core of the impulse behind 777, the
notion that every reliigio-magical system can be mapped onto
the database. 
> --Aleister Crowley, 'Liber CLVII.'

Thanks for giving substance to my contention that Crowley
was an armchair Orientalist for whom playing the mental
parlour game of 777 was paramount, and who never actually
studied yoga with a guru. Of course that didn't stop him
from posing a naked saddhu to get his picture taken -- or,
under other circumstances -- from writing the most
scurrilous things about any Hindu people who did not obey
his commands as a visiting Englishman. The beating of the
Bengali doctor always comes to mind in this context, along
with his comments on "babus" and on the need to keep Indian
men from studying in British universities so as to prevent
their having sex with English women. 

Have you by any chance read the lengthy article on Lord
Curzon, the Viceroy of India at the end of the Victorian
era, that ran in the New Yorker earlier this month? If not,
i recommend it highly. It presents a comprehensive picture
of conservative (which we would now call "right wing")
British attitudes of "superiority" toward Indians -- and it
is highly evocative of what Crowley was aspiring to emulate
as he travelled through Asia. 

cat yronwode 

The Sacred Landscape -------

The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races